Development of a platform for novel antibiotics

Bioinformatic method for discovering the lethal sequences

Only 100 years ago, bacterial infection was one of the most dangerous and prevalent of problems in human health and was a major cause of human fatalities. Antibiotics have changed this picture completely, and most bacterial infections are easily treated by using the correct antibiotic. However, the overuse of antibiotics has led to the appearance of highly resistant strains, that cannot be treated with normal antibiotics. This is especially true of hospitals, where patients are in danger of being infected with resistant pathogens. The development of totally new antibiotics is very slow, very expensive and has not been in the forefront of development by pharmaceutical companies. We have used a novel form of bioinformatics to identify short sequences in pathogenic bacterial proteins that appear much less than expected.

Bacterial cells are killed by novel antibiotic peptides. Untreated cells (on the right half of the plate) grow as “lawn” of cells, while the treated cells on the left do not grow at all.

We hypothesized that they are missing as they are harmful to the cells and thus might be used as a new type of antibiotics. We are now in the process of proving that this is indeed the case, using short peptides against bacteria such as E. coli and Salmonella (in collaboration with Prof. Sima Yaron from the Faculty of Biotechnology and Food Engineering of the Technion). We believe that these peptides will serve a larger platform of antibiotics that will be able to counteract resistance appearance in the treated bacteria.