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Scientists VU and Leiden will tackle antibiotic resistance

11 March 2022
Biochemist Nathaniel Martin (Leiden University) and microbiologist Joen Luirink (AIMMS, VU) have received funding from the Dutch Research Council (NWO) Open Technology Programme for their project ‘Next Generation Antibiotics Targeting Gram-Negative Pathogens’.

In this project the Martin and Luirink groups will unite to tackle the problem of antibiotic resistance using a range of experimental approaches. Employing innovative high-throughput screening and state of the art chemical biology selection methods, novel antibiotic compounds will be identified.

The collaboration was awarded nearly one million euros. The research project will cover four years and is supported by the private partners Fundación Medina, Bioversys AG and Pepscan. The group of Seino Jongkees (AIMMS, VU) is also involved in this research project.

BamA protein
The focus of the research will be on finding antibiotics that interfere with the activity of a bacterial outer membrane protein known as BamA. While the activity of BamA is essential for Gram-negative bacteria, at present there are no clinically used antibiotics that function by inhibiting its activity.

This approach has the potential to provide much-needed new antibiotics against the most critical pathogens listed on the World Health Organization’s recently published priority pathogens list, namely drug-resistant strains of Acinetobacter, Pseudomonas, and various Enterobacteriaceae (including Klebsiella and E. coli). The research of Martin and Luirink will deliver innovative, first-in-class, Gram-negative specific antibiotics as leads for further development along with key insights into their working mechanisms.

About the Open Technology Programme (OTP)
With the OTP, the NWO Domain Applied and Engineering Sciences provides funding for excellent research, with a focus on the possible application of the results. The program offers companies and other organizations a low-threshold way of linking up with scientific research that should lead to applicable knowledge. Read the NWO news release.