Research Project Summary:

Novel drugs are urgently needed to combat the emergence of bacteria multiresistant species. Understanding and targeting antimicrobial resistance is one of the global health surveillance priorities. Our research group has a longstanding consolidated experience in the structure-functional characterization of human secreted RNases, a family of small cytotoxic proteins expressed by epithelial and blood cells upon infection. Host defence RNases belonging to a unique vertebrate specific gene family, show an unusual rapid evolution rate, a trait characteristic of innate immunity proteins, providing adaptation to an ever-changing pathogen exposed environment. Antimicrobial proteins have thus been selected through evolution to work as anti-infective agents against a wide variety of pathogen intruders. We are currently pursuing the development of new scaffolds by structure-based design to engineer novel antibiotics. In particular, we are aiming to target bacterial resistance forms, as biofilm communities and macrophage dwelling bacteria.

Research Lines:

- Structural – functional characterization of antimicrobial RNases

- Patterns for host-pathogen recognition

- Patterns for cellular RNA targeting

- Design of novel antimicrobial peptides

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