Bioinformatics of sequence indels: Novel applications for protein network analysis, drug target identification and drug development

Infectious diseases continue to be a huge threat worldwide. The effectiveness of current antibiotics is declining as many life-threatening bacteria have developed resistance to existing drugs, giving rise to the need for a new generation of antibiotics. An important factor responsible for emerging bacterial resistance is that conventional antibiotic drugs are designed to disable proteins on bacteria that allow it to infect host cells. These particular proteins mutate readily, which enhances their potential to develop resistance mechanisms against antibiotic treatment. An alternative strategy in antibiotic development would be to target “conserved” proteins – fundamental proteins that are resistant to mutations, because they perform essential functions that keep the bacteria alive. Michael Hsing’s research is focused on developing antibiotics that selectively target conserved and essential proteins in pathogens. To do this, he is investigating the important biological phenomenon of protein insertions and deletions (referred to as indels) and combining this approach with the latest computational tools to develop novel antibiotics that are more rapid and effective than the conventional approach. His goal is the development of an effective and economical method of developing antibiotic drugs to treat existing and emerging pathogens.