Have you ever heard your doctor say: “I am sorry Sir/Madam, but the antibiotic that was prescribed is not working due to antibiotic resistance; we have to identify a new antibiotic that will work for you?" The discovery of new compounds that kill bacteria and or inhibit bacterial growth is an everlasting quest.
In order to discover new antibiotics to fight bacterial infections, researchers must first discover enzymes or mechanisms that are present in bacteria that are preferably not associated with humans. Once the bacterial enzyme or mechanism is identified, researchers can begin the process of discovery by identifying compounds that are able to block enzyme or mechanism activity which will prevent the bacteria from growing (bacteriostatic effect) or kill the bacteria (antibiotic effect).
Students will perform experiments to observe the action of the enzyme in a living organism to answer the following question? Is enzyme X a good target for antibiotic development? Students will also utilize various computer programs that researchers use in this endeavor.
BLAST AWAY: Students will be introduced to Basic Local Alignment Search Tool (BLAST) computer program that is used compare proteins from different organisms.
Enzyme Purification and Detection: Students will perform enzyme purification and detect the purified enzyme by protein electrophoresis on an enzyme that is directly involved in bacterial cell wall biosynthesis
Functional complementation: Students will perform this critical test to assess if the enzyme in question is absolutely essential for bacteria growth.