The threat to human health due to the emergence of antibiotic-resistant microorganisms is estimated to reach 10 million deaths per year by 2050 according to a recent report from the UN Ad hoc Interagency Coordinating Group on Antimicrobial Resistance and hence urgent action is needed to develop new antibiotic drugs.
One possible area for new antibiotic development is agents that target bacterial cell wall synthesis by inhibiting alanine racemase (also known as L-alanine racemase). Alanine racemase is a ubiquitous bacterial enzyme that carries out the racemisation of L-alanine to D-alanine; D-alanine is a key component of the bacterial cell wall.
A significant number of crystal structures of different alanine racemases have been reported in the literature and the first phase of this project will involve the development of a computational model to screen for potential lead candidates (this will be run in conjunction with a Chinese pharmaceutical company).
In the second phase of the project, work will focus on synthesising the lead compounds identified and undertaking physiochemical evaluation.
The final phase will involve the evaluation of the leads in a range of biological screens to assess their antibacterial activity.
The multidisciplinary nature of this project represents a great opportunity for the student and would be particularly suited to a Biomedical Science, Chemistry or Pharmacy graduate and allow them to obtain valuable training in all aspects of medicinal chemistry.
The candidate should have (or expect to receive) a degree at 2:1 or above.
Informal enquires can be made to Dr Mark Ashton (firstname.lastname@example.org) and interested students can contact Dr Ilona Obara (Ilona.Obara@newcastle.ac.uk)