The challenge of DIVINOCELL is to develop new compounds to treat the infections caused by Gram-negative pathogens. We will specifically aim at finding compounds to block their proliferation by inhibiting the bacterial division machinery.
Despite existing antibiotic therapies and vaccines, infectious diseases are the leading cause of morbidity and mortality world-wide. In developing countries they cause over 60% of total deaths, but even in Europe, they are the third cause of death, mostly in elderly and debilitated populations.
E. coli, the Gram-negative organism chosen for our research contains a number of well-known commensal strains, with K12 being the model microbe in Molecular Microbiology, but it also has some dangerous pathogenic strains. The burden of infection caused by E. coli pathovars is enormous and although E. coli infections are not the most prevalent, they produce a high number of hospital admissions due to serious and difficult to treat disease.
Cell division is an essential and still underexploited process with excellent properties to yield new inhibitors to attack infection by blocking the proliferation of pathogens. Inhibitors directed against bacterial division targets, that are not present in eukaryotic cells, will be both effective and innocuous to humans and animals. We will preferentially study structures based on interaction domains and synthetic scaffolds that will generate resistance at levels lower than the present antibiotics.
Even considering the cost, in time and money, needed for the development of a new drug, the success of one single anti-infective active against Gram-negative pathogens will be priceless in terms of alleviating human suffering.