A new class of synthetic antibiotics may one day be a reality thanks to the work of Concordia College New York Assistant Professor of Biology Dr. Francine Morris.
According to the World Health Organization, a growing number of infections are becoming harder to treat as bacteria change in response to antibiotics. As new resistance mechanisms emerge and spread, antibiotics are becoming increasingly ineffective, creating a daunting challenge to global health, food security, and development.
Dr. Morris (along with Dr. Caren L. Freel Meyers) developed the patented strategy while working on her Ph.D. She demonstrated that it is possible to effectively target a particular protein within a microbe (bacteria are a type of microbe.) Scientists had previously underestimated the potential of the protein upon which she focused her research.
The implication for antibiotic development is profound. Using Dr. Morris’s patented design strategy (Aromatic Acylphosphonates as Selective Inhibitors of DXP Synthase), an entirely new class of antibiotic could be developed, buying a much longer time frame before bacteria develop resistance to it.
Dr. Morris said: “I hope that someone will pick up on the idea. When it comes to microbes, it’s more their world than ours.”
Dr. Morris earned her Ph.D. in Chemical Biology at Johns Hopkins University. She also holds a master’s degree in Chemistry from Emory University, and a bachelor’s degree in Chemistry, cum laude, from Bryn Mawr College. She has performed research at Albert Einstein and other institutions, received several fellowships and awards, and has contributed work to various scientific publications and presentations. Dr. Morris’s goal in teaching is to make the sciences accessible to all students, perhaps inspiring them to join the field.