Venkata Works to Combat Antibiotic Resistance Through Research
Published on 16 June 2020
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, antibiotic resistance is one of the most urgent public health challenges of our time, with at least 2.8 million people contracting resistant infections, which result in more than 35,000 deaths in the United States each year.
Kalyan Venkata, Ph.D., assistant professor of medicinal chemistry at St. Louis College of Pharmacy, is working to combat antibiotic resistance through his research on inhibitors of New Delhi metallo-B-lactamase-1 (NDM-1), an enzyme that makes bacteria resistant to a broad range of antibiotics.
Since its discovery in 2008, NDM-1 prevalence has grown among bacterial infections, and because of this, many bacteria and fungi are becoming resistant to antibiotics, thus neutralizing their effects.
“Currently, antibiotics are able to prevent infections, but if they lose their ability, or the bacteria is able to break down the antibiotic, then we are unable to control the infection,” Venkata explained. “This project will focus on developing innovations for bacterial resistance to restore the activity of the antibiotic.”
Venkata’s innovative research efforts were recently recognized by the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP), which presented Venkata with a New Investigator Award for 2020.
“This is an exciting opportunity because it will help us lay the foundation for further research,” Venkata stated. “Many pharmaceutical companies are not putting as much emphasis on antimicrobial research anymore, which makes awards like this even more important. We are starting to realize that infections are probably the most dangerous because they are hard to control when they hit us. Having something in the pipeline, or a researched understanding, will allow us to develop effective medications quicker.”
Venkata joined the College in July 2019 with the goal of pursuing research opportunities. As he continues his research, he is hopeful that his recent AACP award will open doors that will help him further his work.
“Though we are still in the beginning stages of the project, this research will provide me with the preliminary evidence required to develop future research and grant applications, and it will foster collaborations with not only other faculty at the College but with external research partners as well,” Venkata stated. “I decided to come to the College in part because of the opportunity for research, and the resources, infrastructure and connections we have here will make it possible for me to sustain this project and even complete it.”
Venkata will present his NDM-1 research at the AACP Annual Meeting in Toronto, Canada in July 2021.
Venkata is one of many faculty members across the College currently pursuing innovative research projects, both in individual laboratories and through the College’s academic and research centers. To learn more about research at the College, visit stlcop.edu/research.