UTHSC Associate Professor Michio Kurosu Receives $431,000 Grant for Research to Combat Antibiotic-Resistant Superbugs

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A $431,000 grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases will allow Dr. Michio Kurosu and his research team to work to develop new antibacterial drugs to treat deadly superbugs

With more than 20 years of experience as a synthetic and medicinal chemist, Michio Kurosu, PhD, an associate professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences in the College of Pharmacy at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC), has a long-term interest in identifying new drug targets for bacterial infections and developing new antibacterial agents.

He has received a grant totaling $431,000 from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health, to develop new antibacterial agents for infections caused by deadly superbugs – bacteria that have become resistant to multiple antibiotics.

Dr. Kurosu has engaged in a wide range of research projects associated with infectious diseases. This award, to be distributed over two years, will support a project titled, “Expansion of Spectrum of Activity of Pleuromutilin for MDR Gram-Negative Bacteria.”

Dr. Kurosu and his research team have discovered several new drug leads that are effective against multi-drug-resistant (MDR) diseases, such as Mycobacterium tuberculosis and its dormant form; and Gram–negative bacteria, such as Klebsiella pneumoniaeEnterobacteriaceaeAcinetobacter baumannii and Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

There has been much concern about the lack of progress in developing new drugs to treat MDR infections. As demonstrated by many research groups in academia and the pharmaceutical industry, discovery of drug candidates that are potentially active against MDR Gram-negative bacteria is very difficult.

“The work proposed in this grant aims to prove that pleuromutilin, an antibacterial drug that hinders protein synthesis, could lead to the discovery of a drug that fights Gram-negative bacteria,” said Dr. Kurosu. “By accomplishing the proposed projects, our work will have an impact on discovery of a new antimicrobial agent for clinically untreatable Gram-negative infections.”

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) is committed to research endeavors that aim to better understand, treat and ultimately prevent infectious, immunologic, and allergic diseases. For more information, visit www.niaid.nih.gov.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH), the nation’s medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visitwww.nih.gov.