BSI team joins forces with Oragenics in search for new antibiotics


A biophysics team led by Prem Chapagain and Bernard Gerstman has joined forces with Oragenics Inc. in an effort that could lead to the development of new compounds to treat life-threatening infections.

Chapagain

Gerstman

Oragenics develops antibiotics that can be used against infectious diseases and treatments for oral mucositis, a condition caused by cancer treatments in which painful sores develop in the patient’s mouth. As part of this new collaboration, FIU will create computational models to study the company’s lantibiotic compounds, which are promising class of antibiotics that contain lanthionine.

“We are regularly seeking to optimize treatment with our lantibiotic compounds and believe that this collaboration will help to best understand the way our lantibiotics interact with bacteria, thus enabling us to rationally design novel analogs with improved antimicrobial and/or pharmacological properties,” said Alan Joslyn, president and CEO of Oragenics.

“We are particularly enthusiastic to be collaborating with Florida International University’s team and look forward to sharing outcomes from our efforts and to introducing additional therapies that may include Gram-negative infections as a result of these models.”

Molecular dynamics is a computational simulation method that reveals the relationships among biomolecular structures and functions in great detail. The team employs powerful video cards originally intended for image processing in video games to simulate how DNA, proteins and other biomolecules form their shapes and perform their functions. Their work offers promising insight into the potential design of new drugs and enzymes.

At least 2 million people in the United States are infected annually with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The FIU research team is part of the Biomolecular Sciences Institute, which is focused on developing treatments for infectious diseases, cancer and neurological disorders. Bacterial infections that are resistant to current antibiotics is of particular focus to the center’s research teams.

“This collaboration will advance both basic and translational knowledge relevant for finding much needed new treatments for superbugs,” said Yuk-Ching Tse-Dinh, director of FIU’s Biomolecular Sciences Institute and Translational Molecular Discoveries. “A major goal of Translational Molecular Discoveries, an Emerging Preeminent Program at FIU, is to establish a partnership between FIU faculty and industry so that the scientific discoveries made at FIU can impact disease treatment.”