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The world faces the threat that bacterial infections acquired in hospitals or community settings such as gym facilities could become life-threatening due to the insufficient number of new antibiotics in the pipeline during the past decades.

Two Biomolecular Sciences Institute (BSI) faculty members, Dr. Yuk-Ching Tse-Dinh and Dr. Fenfei Leng are utilizing their world-leading expertise on DNA topoisomerases to make discoveries that would contribute to the fight against these superbugs. Bacterial topoisomerases are master regulators of bacterial genome structure and are essential for the survival of bacterial pathogens. Many of the most widely used antibiotics today target DNA gyrase, one of the bacterial topoisomerases.

Dr. Tse-Dinh and her collaborators at Torrey Pines Institute for Molecular Studies received a new patent on novel compounds as bacterial topoisomerase inhibitors with antibacterial activity. These compounds have shown promising activity against the causative agent for tuberculosis, a global pandemic that kills someone approximately every 18 seconds. Growing resistance to available TB drugs means the disease is becoming more deadly and difficult to treat.

Dr. Leng received a new patent on a powerful method that can be used for identifying a compound as a gyrase inhibitor.  Such compounds would be candidates as leads that can be developed into much needed new antibiotics. Dr. Leng’s co-inventors are FIU alums, Xiaoduo Zhi and Samantha Dages and current FIU medical student, Kelley Dages. 

Dr. Yuk-Ching Tse-Dinh contributed to this story.