The organizations’ Connecting through Research Partnerships (“Connect”) program has been granted $125,000 for each project to see them through until August next year, with the hope that research will result in a new way to tackle Lyme disease.
SwRI is an independent, nonprofit, applied research and development organization based in San Antonio. There are almost 3,000 people employed at SwRI and amongst them are SwRI Principal Scientist Dr. Gloria Gutierrez of the Chemistry and Chemical Engineering Division and Associate Professor of Bacterial Pathogenesis Janakiram Seshu in the UTSA Department of Biology. Dr. Seshu is also a member of the South Texas Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases Center of Excellence in Infection Genomics.
Mevalonate Pathway to Combat Lyme Disease
These researchers are leading a team of scientists looking into the antibacterial effects of novel agents that could inhibit the activity of Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacterial agent that causes Lyme disease. They are looking specifically at the mevalonate pathway that is involved in the growth and survival of the bacteria and it is hoped that success in this area will also help develop drugs that can control multi-drug resistant strains of other bacteria.
With over 300,000 new cases of Lyme disease each year in the US and no vaccine currently available this research is timely and, importantly for funding purposes, commercially viable. Should the scientists succeed in finding a new way to impair the activity of the Lyme disease bacteria the antimicrobial(s) could be used to significantly reduce the presence of the bacteria in animal populations, tick populations and, quindi, reduce the risk to humans.