1:00pm, Monday, 1 May
Room BIG13, Ground Floor
710 Cumberland St
Dr Matthias Fellner
University of Otago, Hercus Fellow
‘Development of molecular imaging and therapeutic agents for Staphylococcus aureus’
Staphylococcus aureus is a bacterium that causes a variety of diseases ranging from local skin or soft tissue infections to invasive chronic infections such as pneumonia. Such infections are a major cause of death, especially in New Zealand, and they also disproportionately affect Māori and Pacific peoples. Invasive chronic infections are often linked with the ability of S. aureus to form biofilms: complex mixtures of biomolecules made by microorganisms, which allow them to stick to surfaces (including human tissue), colonise them, and resist antibiotic treatment.
In this talk I will summarise our efforts to develop a diagnostic probe for S. aureus biofilm infected tissue by targeting serine hydrolases via a covalent link. An international collaborative team is combining structure-function characterisations with organic synthesis, peptide discoveries via phage display and in silico methods to achieve the required exceptional level of specificity. In parallel, we are also investigating the underlying mechanisms of serine hydrolases in S. aureus biofilm formation by linking microbiology with mass spectrometry and NMR techniques. Targeting serine hydrolases may result in decreased virulence and may also make S. aureus more susceptible to certain antibiotics.