Research

Drop plating

The world is faced by a great challenge posed by emerging bacterial strains that are multi-resistant to antimicrobial drugs. Antimicrobial resistance (AMR), especially among Gram-negative bacteria, has progressed so seriously that treatment options for common infections and minor injuries may soon become ineffective unless global actions across several sectors are taken. The need for new antimicrobials has been recognised on many levels, e.g. by the WHO, the European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, and by the European Medicines Agency. And yet, novel first-in-class antibiotics against Gram-negative bacteria have not been discovered for decades.

Our research focuses on enhancing antimicrobial drug discovery – covering aspects from early target validation to detailed characterisation studies of novel antimicrobial substances. We develop fast and predictive high-throughput screening (HTS) tools, for example, by using bacterial bioreporters, and use combinations of target- and cell-based approaches in our screening campaigns. We are also aiming to develop advanced, phenotypic cell models for early evaluation of screening hits as well as to study the effects of novel antimicrobial compounds on host-pathogen interactions by using multi-species co-cultures. Special emphasis is also placed on using natural products (NP) and NP-inspired synthetic compounds in screening to facilitate their integration into HTS campaigns.

We belong to the Drug Research Program and the Division of Pharmaceutical Biosciences at the Faculty of Pharmacy. We are also hosting the Bioactivity Screening Unit, which provides researchers access to screening instrumentation as well as consultation in matters such as compound libraries, screening assay development and quality control relevant for screening campaigns. This unit belongs to the Drug Discovery and Chemical Biology network, and is a HiLIFE infrastructure facility.

Research projects

Novel compounds with potential antimicrobial properties are continuously discovered, for example from natural products, but in many cases found activities are not being characterised beyond the initial discovery phase. In this project, we are aiming to develop predictive and efficient tools for the antibacterial screening process and follow-up studies. This project is funded by the Academy of Finland (2014-2019).

Research outputs

The INTEGRATE training framework is built on an innovative research project aimed at targeting important but non-essential gene products as an effective means of reducing bacterial fitness, thereby facilitating clearance of the pathogen by the host immune system. To achieve this, the individual work programmes have been designed to seamlessly inter-mesh contributions from the fields of in silico design, organic synthesis, molecular biology and biochemistry, and the very latest in vitro and in vivo screening technologies. This project is funded by the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement No 642620.

For further information, please visit the INTEGRATE website

In this project, we aim to fully explore the antibacterial potential of natural product –based synthetic compounds that we have found to display highly promising activity against Gram-positive bacteria. The project is funded by the Academy of Finland (2016-2018, Key project).