The main objective of our research group is the development of new strategies to combat infections by multidrug-resistant (MDR) bacteria, in particular of the gram-negative (GN) group. The increasing emergence and spread of MDR pathogens constitutes at present one of the major threats to public health worldwide. The shortage of effective antimicrobials for the treatment of infections by multiresistant gram-negative bacteria is particularly critical as cases of pan-resistance (i.e. to all drugs) accumulate. The discovery of new targets and modes of action (MoA), less propitious to the evolution of resistance, has therefore become a pressing need. In parallel, the development of effective vaccines is expected to offer a solution for high-risk population groups. Our team combines a range of computational and experimental techniques for the identification of vaccine-antigen and antimicrobial-target candidates with new modes of action in gram-negative bacteria. Much of this research is done in collaboration with the group of Bacterial Molecular Genetics of IBB, led by Dr. Isidre Gibert. On the antimicrobial side we aim to exploit conserved virulence factors as novel drug targets, reducing the pathogenic capacity of the bacteria as well as the selection pressure for drug-resistant phenotypes and preventing the devastating effect of the treatment with antibiotics on the patient’s microbiota. In these areas our group has coordinated two European projects within FP6 (BacAbs, identification of new antigens) and FP7 (AntiPathoGN, identification of new targets and antibacterials).
Specifically, we are engaged in the following types of activities:
- Development of bioinformatic methods for the identification of novel antimicrobial-drug targets, antigens and their epitopes in pathogenic bacteria.
- Experimental validation and characterisation of identified antigens and antimicrobial-drug targets (in collaboration).
- Biomolecular modelling and simulation for the design of synthetic vaccines.
- Target-based virtual screening for antimicrobial-drug discovery.
- Experimental validation of hit antimicrobial compounds (in collaboration).