Dr. Sylvie Garneau-Tsodikova

Dr. Sylvie Garneau-Tsodikova

In the United States, 90,000 people a year die as a result of infections with “superbugs,” such as Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), which are resistant to known antibiotics. In a joint BSF project, Dr. Sylvie Garneau-Tsodikova’s team at the Life Sciences Institute at the University of Michigan, together with the team of Dr. Micha Fridman from the Department of Chemistry at Tel Aviv University, found they could employ the enzymes bacteria use to kill antibiotics as tools for creating more effective drugs.

“The bacteria know how to identity antibiotics via enzymes. Using a chemical change at a suitable site in the drug, they block its activity,” explained Dr. Fridman. “We have developed both chemical and biochemical techniques to block the location in the antibiotic changed by the enzyme to create resistance.”
This approach was recently refined to produce larger quantities of new analogues of the antibiotics tobramycin and paromomycin, which are in clinical use. “We are very excited because these novel compounds have a better potential for alleviating some of the resistance problems than drugs currently on the market,” said Dr. Garneau-Tsodikova.