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Countering Anti-Microbial Resistance Through Chemical Manipulation of the Pathogen-Host Interaction

Erick Strauss of Stellenbosch University in South Africa will develop a small molecule inhibitor of an enzyme that helps pathogenic bacteria evade the host immune system and potentially become resistant to antibiotics as a novel treatment for methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA), which is a major public health concern. They discovered a bacterial enzyme, MerA, that neutralizes an anti-microbial compound secreted by immune cells. This prolongs the survival of the bacteria in the host, giving them time to develop mutations that could render them less susceptible to antibiotics. They have identified two different chemical scaffolds that occupy the active site of MerA and will employ a new inhibitor discovery strategy that combines parallel synthesis with an X-ray structure-based binding screen to identify promising MerA inhibitor leads. These leads will be evaluated by in vitro and ex vivo assays for further development.

More information about Grand Challenges Africa: Drug Discovery

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The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is part of the Grand Challenges partnership network. Visit www.grandchallenges.org to view the map of awarded grants across this network and grant opportunities from partners.