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New UCSD Program to Fight Drug-Resistant Bacteria

In response to the major public health threat posed by antibiotic-resistant bacteria, researchers at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) are launching a new program to develop novel// antibiotics – from initial discovery, through development and testing, to clinical trials.

"UCSD is uniquely positioned to provide all of the necessary expertise to fight this urgent medical problem," said UCSD Chancellor Marye Anne Fox. "UCSD researchers in medicine, pharmaceutical sciences, medicinal chemistry and oceanography will combine their expertise to explore potential new antibiotic drug discoveries."

The program brings together researchers from UCSD’s School of Medicine, Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and Scripps Institution of Oceanography to harness what might prove to be the world’s most important untapped drug resource – the ocean.

William Fenical, Ph.D, professor of oceanography and pharmaceutical sciences and director of Scripps’s Center for Marine Biotechnology and Biomedicine, and colleagues at Scripps are working on the isolation and characterization of potent substances from the sea – discovering novel drug-producing microbes.

Fenical’s research team has discovered at least 13 new groups of microbes which are adapted to live in the world’s oceans. Many of these new bacteria are found in deep- ocean sediments, a habitat that had never been conceived as a resource in previous drug discovery programs.

“In laboratory culture, these new bacteria produce an amazing diversity of structurally unprecedented and highly bioactive molecules with the potential to contribute successfully to the treatment of infectious diseases,” said Fenical.

Victor Nizet, M.D., is an associate professor of pediatrics in the Division of Infectious Diseases at UCSD’s School of Medicine. He and other researchers in the School of Medicine possess ex
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