David A Kitzenberg, PhD | Primer Pharmaceuticals Corp
Competition Sponsor: US National Academy of Medicine
Awardee Year: 2023
Infections are a major cause of morbidity and mortality in older populations. Human immunity senesces, causing increased susceptibility to a range of infections. Furthermore, increasing antibiotic resistance is alarming because when antibiotics fail to clear an infection, patients are subject to greater morbidity, adverse events, and health risk. Thus, improving treatment of bacterial infection has tremendous potential to positively impact health and longevity across all populations, and older populations in particular. Antibiotics can fail to kill bacteria without the bacteria possessing traditional antibiotic resistance due to a phenomenon called antibiotic tolerance or persistence. Recent scientific findings have demonstrated that these antibiotic tolerant or persistent bacteria function as a stepping-stone for resistance acquisition and serve as a bacterial reservoir to repopulate an infection, thereby driving treatment failure and antibiotic resistance. This proposal aims to reduce antibiotic treatment failure and the emergence of antibiotic resistance by developing antibiotic adjuvant drugs that bolster the efficacy of commonly used antibiotics against tolerant and persistent bacteria. This project will, (1) utilize validated screening platforms to identify small molecule antibiotic adjuvants against common human pathogens; (2) use infection models to test antibiotic/adjuvant combination therapy for superiority over standard antibiotic therapy; (3) use bacterial evolution studies to determine an adjuvant’s potential to reduce antibiotic resistance emergence. Improving infection outcomes with antibiotic adjuvants will promote health and longevity for a significant number of people, worldwide. To solve the antibiotic resistance problems of the future, we need to start now.