RIT Researcher Gets Federal Grant To Help Develop New Antibiotics

Sep 2, 2016

Credit rit.edu

An RIT professor has received a federal grant for research in the effort to develop new drugs to combat the rise in the number of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Associate Professor Andre Hudson has been awarded a nearly $437,000 grant to look into the concept of using a certain enzyme to help develop antibiotics that do a better job of targeting specific bacteria. Hudson is with RIT’s Gosnell School of Life Sciences.

He says current antibiotics are designed to kill a wide variety of bacteria, and that can cause problems.

“You’re ridding your body of the good bacteria as well as the bad bacteria so sometimes you have to use probiotics to replenish the good bacteria. What we hope is with this enzyme, we could target those specific pathogens since this enzyme is not in every bacteria, only in certain specific bacteria.”

Hudson says there's also a need to develop a new class of antibiotic drugs and get them in the pipeline before they are needed, so the medical community doesn't  face the kinds of pressures that come up when there are outbreaks of serious illnesses such as Ebola or Zika.

“We waited until we had a specific antibiotic resistant problem to kind of hone in on the issue, whereas we need drugs in the pipeline, so let’s not wait until we have resistance to start developing drugs.”

Hudson has a three-year grant and he will also be working with other researchers around the world. He will also be helping train undergraduate and graduate students at RIT in connection with the ongoing research.

Congresswoman Louise Slaughter, whose background includes her having been trained as a microbiologist, calls the antibiotic issue a “global problem,” and last year re-introduced legislation to keep antibiotics from being routinely fed to healthy animals to help reduce the instances of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.