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Screening, optimising and target profiling of novel antibiotics


July 2017 – July 2021

Group and collaboration

Mario van der Stelt – Leiden Institute of Chemistry, Leiden University
PhD student: Alexander Bakker

PhD defence

Dissertation: Discovery of antibiotics and their targets in multidrug-resistant bacteria

Date: 07 December 2022

Project description

The aim of this project is to help develop new tools to combat resistant bacteria. From a synthetic chemical library, several molecules were found with antibiotic activity against MRSA and E. coli. In this project these molecules are chemically modified in order to find out if we can increase their antibiotic activity.

Furthermore, in this project we want to find out via which mechanisms these molecules work, and what kind of weak points of the bacteria are targeted. To do this we chemically change our molecules into ‘chemical probes’. These probes contain two crucial elements: a reactive group, which can latch onto the part of the bacteria that it is close to; and a tag, which can be used to reel that specific part in after latching on, or to visualise it by attaching a fluorescent chemical group.

By learning more about how these molecules attack the bacteria, we can hopefully gather information on new weak points of multi-drug resistant bacteria, and in this way contribute to developing new antibacterial therapies.

Disease Intervention Strategies is the overarching theme for more than 10 PhD tracks in NCOH projects to create new interdisciplinary, inter-thematic, and inter-institutional research collaborations.

PhD student interview

Interview: ‘A lot of bacteria are resistant against the usual weapons, so we are trying to find new weak points to exploit’

In the battle against antibiotic resistance, Alexander Bakker is testing existing chemical compounds to see whether they can be used as antibiotics. These compounds were originally created to treat cancer and other diseases.


Project news

PhD defence: Identifying new antibacterials via novel modes-of-action

On 7 December 2022 Alexander Bakker successfully defended his thesis ‘Discovery of antibiotics and their targets in multidrug-resistant bacteria’ at Leiden University.