Developing New Treatments for Drug Resistant Bacterial Infections

According to the Centers for Disease Control, antibiotic resistant bacterial infections are responsible for 2.8 million infections and 35,000 deaths each year in the US alone.  The financial burden of such infections on our healthcare system is estimated at $4.6 billion.  Many of the most successful drugs for treating these diseases come from fungi.  Penicillin, the antibiotic that launched the antibiotic revolution, is just one great example. The Cech Laboratory collaborates with Dr. Nicholas Oberlies in research that seeks to identify new molecules that might be the world’s next penicillin.  This research is conducted by relying on a library of thousands on living fungi, preserved in suspended animation at the University of North Carolina Greensboro.  Scientists in the Cech and Oberlies laboratories grow these fungi, study the molecules that they produce, and test their ability to kill various bacterial pathogens.

Fungi samples

A sample of fungi from the library at UNC Greensboro growing on petri dishes. One of these may hold the key to the next penicillin.

Example Publications: