Saturday, November 30, 2013

Design of Antibiotics that Target Biotin Metabolism

 On November 15, there was a seminar about "Design of antibiotics that Target Biotin Metabolism" by Dr. Courtney Aldrich from University of Minnesota. His seminar was focused on the synthesis of new antibiotics for tuberculosis. He started the seminar by introducing how little interest he had in science in his college years; He couldn't find what he really wanted to study, so he had to change his major five times before he finally knew what he really wanted to study. He joked about if he had little more interested in science early back then, he should've got a basic idea of majoring in chemistry because his last name is Aldrich.
He talked about history of antibiotics and importance of it. Before 1930, you could die because there weren't many antibiotics. 1946-1960 was the golden age of antibiotics. But there isn't any new antibiotics after 1987, therefore, Dr. Aldrich is trying to design new antibiotics. He said there are two major strategies and challenges in antibacterial drug industry: Unbias-phenotypic whole-cell screening and biased-target-based rationale design. He is more focused on biased-target based rationale design. He mentioned the cofactor biosynthesis as drug target and explain the essential in a variety of biological processes and its selective to microorganisms.
He, then, talked about Tubercuosis. Tuberculosis is cased by Mycobacterium tuberculosis, transmitted by soughing and sneezing, and leading cause of bacterial infectious disease mortality with 1.4 million death per year. I was very surprised when I heard this fact. He also showed synthesis of Tuberculosis, Amiclenomyclin(ACM), and aromatizoction inhibitor, and talked about different method testing and making antibiotics. However, I was only able to understand very few concept such as stability, pKa, configuration, basic synthesis that we learned in class, etc.
At the end, he summarized his seminar by three points: impact of BirA Expression Levels on Drug susceptibility by Dir Schanappinger, unpublished result: Target-based approaches have merit, but most have in vivo genetic validation: use of conditional mutants in certain situation. It was very great opportunity that I get to hear his seminar and talk to him in person, because I also want to be in chemistry research industry. He was very knowledgeable and very passionate of chemistry industrial. I learned more than I expected and willing to join more chemistry seminars next time. 


  1. I was impressed with his research focus because it is similar to that work I did when I was working with the National Institute of Health as a Post-baccalaureate research fellow. I am glad to see the impact of medicinal chemistry because I am considering going that route in the future. Also, currently working as a clinical technologist at a clinical toxicology industry, I was able to follow up with his lecture because such topic interest me.

  2. It sounds like this was an excellent lecture to attend. While I don't have any interest in developing drugs/antibiotics, I am fascinated with the synthesis and application of them. I also had NO idea that we haven't had any new antibiotics developed since 1987, and that really surprises me. I wish I had had the time to go to this lecture, it sounds like the lecturer was very informative and knowledgeable.