Dr. Aldrich gave a presentation on November 15 about designing antibiotics for tuberculosis that target biotin metabolism. He began by giving a history of antibiotics and talked about the importance of biotin in the TB bacterium. Biotin is a cofactor that is needed to synthesis the fatty acid portion of the bacteria's cell envelope. Without a cell envelope, the bacteria is susceptible to the harsh conditions of the outside environment, including antibiotics and other drugs that could destroy the bacteria. Dr. Aldrich talked about tests that could be done when testing the antibiotics and different approaches to take when making the drugs. When designing an antibiotic there are many obstacles to over come - creating a molecule then finding out that it is unstable and is gone the next day, difficulty in stabilizing the compound, specificity of the compound, etc.
He talked in great deal about all the time and work and research that goes in to this kind of thing. The entire time the presentation was going on, however, I could only think about one thing: how much the antibiotic will cost. Over 95% of TB deaths occur in poor countries. Most of the people in need of medications are poor and can’t afford treatment, so they die. Why make an antibiotic for a disease that majorly affects poverty-stricken individuals and seriously poor countries when they won’t be able to afford it? Whenever they find these new antibiotics, I hope they work to make them affordable so that the drug can do what it was made to do, save lives.