A new strategy for disarming multiresistant hospital germs

GO-Bio 5 – Dr. Katrin Lorenz-Baath – Project leader of AVIRU, Chair of Organic Chemistry II, Technical University of Munich

Krankenhausflur mit Infusionsflasche im Vordergrund

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Recipient: Technical University of Munich
Funding: GO-Bio Phase I (01.01.2013 - 31.12.2014, 1.644.670 Euro) 


Today, antibiotics have lost their edge as a weapon in the fight against germs. Many pathogenic bacteria and protozoa have developed resistances to a wide range of drugs, which can greatly limit the options for successful therapy. The problem is exacerbated by a lack of commitment to the development of new antibiotics on the side of the pharmaceutical industry. In the field as whole, there is a vital need for innovation.

Against this backdrop, the AVIRU team in Munich is developing active ingredients that make use of a new approach to incapacitating multiresistant bacteria. In contrast to conventional antibiotics, these compounds – small chemical molecules within the class of beta-lactones – do not kill the microbes. Rather, the cells are prevented from secreting toxins that are the cause of dangerous symptoms in patients. The blocked target molecule in this case is a bacterial enzyme called ClpP.

The advantage of this strategy is that once disarmed, the bacteria are eliminated by the patient’s own immune response. And because the bacteria are not inhibited in their growth, the later development of possible resistances to the active ingredient is also hindered. In the first funding phase of the GO-Bio project, Katrin Lorenz-Baath and her team plan to focus initially on the validation of the attack target and the clarification of crystallographic bonds. This work will lay the foundations for the optimisation of existing drug candidates. The first funding phase is aiming towards identification of preclinical drug candidates that are suitable for potential application in humans. This is planned to be followed by the implementation of animal studies and the start of the clinical phase.