Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) threatens the effective prevention and treatment of an ever-increasing range of infections caused by bacteria, parasites, viruses and fungi. An increasing number of governments around the world are devoting efforts to a problem so serious that it threatens the achievements of modern medicine. A post-antibiotic era – in which common infections and minor injuries can kill – far from being an apocalyptic fantasy, is instead a very real possibility for the 21st Century.

— Antimicrobial resistance: global report on surveillance 2014, WHO.

The rampant spread of antibiotic resistance and the rise of multi-drug resistant pathogens is a global problem that threatens our ability to treat bacterial infections. The utility of conventional antibiotics is fast diminishing and the spread of resistance is outpacing the introduction of new antibiotics.

Our Mission: Harness millions of years of natural evolution to accelerate the discovery and development of new antibacterials to combat the challenge of antibiotic resistance.

We are focusing on the antimicrobial molecules that protect animals whose lives are spent in challenging environments. For example, alligators live in swamps and Komodo dragons have mouths filled with deadly pathogens. Such extreme animal species may have evolved especially effective peptide-based mechanisms for defending themselves against bacterial infection. Host defense peptides represent an ancient and evolutionarily successful protective mechanism employed by nearly all living organisms – one against which bacteria have failed to develop wide-spread resistance.

Our bioprospecting approach to antimicrobial peptide discovery couples preferential enrichment of low abundance peptides using functionalized microparticles with subsequent analysis via mass spectrometry to determine the sequences of the harvested peptides. The identified peptides are chemically synthesized and subjected to a series of performance testing and mechanistic studies in order to establish their antimicrobial effectiveness. Peptides that target pathogens without disrupting host cell function provide promising leads for therapeutics.

Nature is the source of all true knowledge. She has her own logic, her own laws, she has not effect without cause nor invention without necessity.

— Leonardo da Vinci

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