Our research group is focussed on natural product discovery. We are particularly interested in chemical signals and metabolites that control and manipulate the social behaviour of bacteria, new strategies to combat infectious diseases, and chemical interactions of microorganisms in the environment.
In one of our approaches, we develop novel antibiotics against pathogenic bacteria based on new molecular targets that have not been exploited before in order to generate drug candidates with customized activities against high priority pathogens.
Under certain circumstances, bacteria coordinate their behaviour acting as multicellular collectives. For example pathogenic bacteria attack the human host as populations in dependence of their population density while individual cells usually are unable to start infections. This coordination is executed by small molecule signals.
Some organisms produce other small molecules that inhibit or modulate the coordination of bacterial population behaviour in the environment. Discovering how organisms chemically manipulate bacterial behaviour could help us to improve our understanding of the complex interactions of bacteria in the environment, provide important tools for biology, and may result in novel drugs against infectious diseases which could help to overcome the increasing development of antibiotic resistances. To this aim, we are employing a novel platform to discover small molecules that inhibit or modulate bacterial population behaviour.
Small molecules from metabolite extracts will be identified using a combination of proteomics, synthetic chemistry and natural product isolation techniques and the structure of active compounds will be elucidated with NMR and mass spectrometry.
One of our goals is to devolp alternatives to antibiotics for treating resistant bacteria. We hereby aim to inhibit virulence of bacteria (i.e. production of toxins and other substances that help the bacteria to colonize their host and initiate infections).