Accelerating the discovery and manufacture of antibiotics via microbial engineering


Objectives and activities

Given the emergence of antibiotic resistance, there is an urgent need to develop new scientific advances for the discovery and production of effective antibiotics. With this challenge in mind, Associate Professor Gavin Williams from North Carolina State University and Dr Jose Jimenez from the University of Surrey decided to collaborate on a project to accelerate the development and production of antibiotics.

The project is based upon macrolide antibiotic production, with the aim of being able to quickly identify functional engineered biosynthetic pathways and predict bottlenecks in the system. Drawing on the expertise in bio-catalysis (Williams) and microbial engineering (Jimenez), the research team leveraged cell-free systems to produce antibiotics more quickly than current approaches, applying modelling to macrolide antibiotic biosynthetic pathways. The project also involves training students and postdocs.

Presenting antibiotics research findings

As part of the project, Dr Williams and Lexi Malico (PhD student) visited the University of Surrey, where Lexi was able to present her work in a research seminar. The project was also showcased through laboratory webpages and social media and served to forge a link between the two laboratories as well as Control Engineers at Warwick University. This has resulted in an application to a joint research funding programme between EPSRC and NSF for a project entitled ‘Engineering cellular resource allocation controllers for biopharmaceutical applications’

Key researchers

Associate Professor Gavin Williams
Department of Chemistry, North Carolina State University
Jose Jimenez
Senior Lecturer in Synthetic Biology, FHMS, University of Surrey