In response to the major public health threat posed by antibiotic-resistant bacteria, researchers at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) are launching a new program to develop novel antibiotics — from initial discovery, through development and testing, to clinical trials.
"UCSD is uniquely positioned to provide all of the necessary expertise to fight this urgent medical problem," said UCSD Chancellor Marye Anne Fox. "UCSD researchers in medicine, pharmaceutical sciences, medicinal chemistry and oceanography will combine their expertise to explore potential new antibiotic drug discoveries."
The program brings together researchers from UCSD's School of Medicine, Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and Scripps Institution of Oceanography to harness what might prove to be the world's most important untapped drug resource — the ocean.
William Fenical, Ph.D, professor of oceanography and pharmaceutical sciences and director of Scripps's Center for Marine Biotechnology and Biomedicine, and colleagues at Scripps are working on the isolation and characterization of potent substances from the sea — discovering novel drug-producing microbes.
Fenical's research team has discovered at least 13 new groups of microbes which are adapted to live in the world's oceans. Many of these new bacteria are found in deep-ocean sediments, a habitat that had never been conceived as a resource in previous drug discovery programs.
"In laboratory culture, these new bacteria produce an amazing diversity of structurally unprecedented and highly bioactive molecules with the potential to contribute successfully to the treatment of infectious diseases," said Fenical.
Victor Nizet, M.D., is an associate professor of pediatrics in the Division of Infectious Diseases at UCSD's School of Medicine. He and other researchers in the School of Medicine possess expertise in developing innovative strategies from antibiotic resistant microbes. Nizet and his colleagues use molecular and cellular approaches to study the disease-causing properties of bacterial pathogens, as well as the mechanisms human immune systems can use to defend against infection.
"In recent years, the problem of antibiotic resistance has greatly accelerated," said Nizet. "The problem is no longer restricted to the hospital setting, as more and more infections acquired out in the community are being produced by drug-resistant strains."
The Problem of Antimicrobial Resistance
According to Center for Disease Control statistics published in spring 2006:
Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego, is one of the oldest, largest, and most important centers for global science research and education in the world. Now in its second century of discovery, the scientific scope of the institution has grown to include biological, physical, chemical, geological, geophysical, and atmospheric studies of the earth as a system. Hundreds of research programs covering a wide range of scientific areas are under way today on every continent and in every ocean. The institution has a staff of more than 1,400 and annual expenditures of approximately $195 million from federal, state, and private sources. Scripps operates oceanographic research vessels recognized worldwide for their outstanding capabilities. Equipped with innovative instruments for ocean exploration, these ships constitute mobile laboratories and observatories that serve students and researchers from institutions throughout the world. Birch Aquarium at Scripps serves as the interpretive center of the institution and showcases Scripps research and a diverse array of marine life through exhibits and programming for more than 430,000 visitors each year. Learn more at scripps.ucsd.edu and follow us at Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
About UC San Diego
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