Research

Natural Product-Inspired Approaches to Combat Bacterial Biofilms

The overarching goal of the Wuest research group is to utilize chemical biology to perturb biofilm processes. Bacterial biofilms have been estimated to cost society in excess of $200 billion/yr, affecting everything from human health to water purification. Furthermore, biofilms are increasingly resistant to antibiotic treatment and are responsible for persistent infections. Our group is implementing a variety of methods to interrogate the signaling process with the overarching goal of identifying novel treatments and new targets for pharmaceutical development. Nationally, only a few synthetic endeavors have approached this problem in a similar way thus positioning our group for therapeutic breakthroughs.

Currently, we are pursuing a number of synthetic projects targeting known natural product biofilm inhibitors, signaling molecules, and protein-protein interactions. In conjunction, we are also using microbiological and biochemical approaches to discover new therapeutics, identify unprecedented biological targets, and test the efficacy of compounds developed in house. The goal of each of these projects is to make chemical analogs that mimic the natural compounds but are more “drug-like” thus possessing better pharmacokinetic properties and maximizing the likelihood success of therapeutic development. The group is highly interdisciplinary and has key collaborations throughout the world (Cornell, TU-Munich, Villanova) and also at Temple (Chemistry Dprt, Medical, Pharmacy, and Dental Schools) expediting the testing of compounds and evaluation of their mechanism of action.