Alexander Weig and Katie Woolard (University of Notre Dame)

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Location: B01 McCourtney Hall

Due to the antibiotic crisis we are currently facing, driven by overuse of antibiotics both in the clinical and agricultural setting, we need alternative methods of fighting bacterial infections. One method that was first introduced in 1917 by d’Herelle was the use of bacteriophages. Bacteriophages, also known as phages, are viruses that naturally infect bacteria, and can be used in medicine. Due to the lack of experimental development done by d’Herelle to support his claims, and the lack of understanding of both bacterial infections and phages, the concept was discredited not long after its proposal. Disinterest in the topic in the developed world was also furthered by the discovery of antibiotics. However, as knowledge of the virion biome expanded, more rigorous research was done in attempts to investigate d’Herelle’s original idea. This was met with success in treating a variety of bacterial infections both in vitroand in vivo. This approach demonstrates many favorable advantages over the use and development of new antibiotics, while also posing some of its own disadvantages. This seminar will discuss the research that has been done to date on phage therapy along with its benefits and detriments.    (Alexander Weig)

Fungi are responsible for 1.7 million deaths per year around the world, despite low public awareness of their pathogenicity and potential morbidity. Due to their diversity and the fact that they are eukaryotes, they are more difficult to treat than prokaryotic bacteria because they share many similar cellular processes with humans and other mammals. Antifungal agents are separated into classes based on their cellular targets: cell membrane, cell wall, nucleic acid synthesis, and protein synthesis. Currently, there are three main classes of antifungal agents that are used broadly in the clinic: azoles, echinocandins, and polyenes. However, these antifungals have significant issues regarding side effects in patients. In addition, resistance to these classes is increasing in critically impacted areas such as Africa, Latin and South America, and Southeast Asia. Candida auriswas discovered in Japan in 2007 and quickly demonstrated both intrinsic and acquired resistance to most known antifungals as more isolates were discovered around the world. Current methods for developing new antifungals to fight C. aurisand other emerging resistant fungal species focuses on the development of new classes of antifungals, such as ibrexafungerp, which targetsβ-D glucan synthase. Other novel classes of antifungals focus on targeting Gwt1, an enzyme involved in localizing proteins in the cell wall. Lastly, antifungals similar to the azoles are being developed that utilize different target sites in the cell membrane to overcome some azole-resistant fungal strains. The creation of synthetic and semi-synthetic antifungal treatments is vital to overcoming the threat of multi-drug resistant fungi and the emergence of new, pathogenic strains of fungi.   (Katie Woolard)

 

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