The Global Importance of EP’s Microbial Analysis

By October 3, 2012Blog

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Antibiotic resistance is a growing worldwide public health crisis.  Resistance is emerging faster than modern science is able to replace the armamentarium of effective antimicrobial agents.  Currently, over half of Staphylococcus aureus infections acquired in the hospital and community setting are classified as Methicillin Resistance Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA).  So-called ESKAPE pathogens (Enterococcus faecium, Staphylococcus aureus, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Acinetobacter baumannii, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Enterobacter) are responsible for many hospital-acquired infections and present serious therapeutic dilemmas for physician.  Very recently, NDM-1 superbugs have emerged.  NDM-1 is the name of a transmissible microbial resistance gene that stands for New Delhi metallo-beta-lactamase-1.  The bacteria known currently to host this gene are Escherichia Coli and Klebsiella pneumoniae.  There is significant fear among the medical community that NDM-1 may transfer to even more bacterial strains, including those that are already resistant to antibiotics, making them impossible to kill by currently known methods. We are facing the possibility of a “post-antibiotic” era, in which killers of the 19th century like tuberculosis and pneumonia become untreatable once more.  To address the challenge of antibiotic resistance, it is critical to develop new classes of antimicrobial agents and to test these agents for their potential to develop resistance.  That’s where Emery Pharma comes in!

I have spent my entire career, both in academia and at biopharma companies like Theravance and NovaBay, studying antimicrobial agents and examining the mechanisms of drug resistance.  This included developing, performing and managing antimicrobial susceptibility studies (MIC, MBC, time-kill), resistance passage and mechanism of action studies.  It is this strong expertise that I am able to draw from as we offer many of these services at EP.

A few examples of the work we’ve done include performing up to 50 serial passages of highly drug-resistant bacterial pathogens, including MRSAand P. aeruginosa, at sub-lethal concentrations of several antibiotics in order to demonstrate their potential for giving rise to resistance.  These results were published recently in Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy(D’Lima et al., 2012).  We have also established and developed a number of biofilm models, which are important for studying drug resistance in many real-world disease and environmental settings.  These include:

  • Minimum Biofilm Eradication Concentration (MBEC)
    • Biofilm assay done in a standard 96-well plate format
    • Allows for testing of multiple compounds and formulations
  • Modified Robbins Device reactor
    • Uses constant flow to model the conditions in a central venous catheter
  • Colony biofilm
    • Single-colony biofilm assay developed for fungal pathogen C. albicans
  • CDC biofilm reactor
    • modified and enhanced to generate a controlled and reproducible environment for growing biofilm on various test surfaces
  • Crystalline biofilm models
    • Unique, proprietary models that provide insights into crystalline biofilms developing inside a foley urinary catheter

It is this broad experience that we are now using to help biopharma companies and academic groups in their drug discovery efforts by offering microbial analysis and other services through EP.  If you have any needs for antimicrobial testing against bacteria, fungi or viruses, resistance passage studies, biofilm models, cytotoxicity testing in cell cultures or tissues, please contact us at EP!

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