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.
Our research project involves the following experimental approaches:
- Structural – functional characterization of antimicrobial RNases
- Patterns for host-pathogen recognition
- Patterns for cellular RNA targeting
- Design of novel antimicrobial peptides