Developing effective antimicrobials using novel quorum quenching enzymes

Antibiotics revolutionized our medicine against pathogen infection. However, pathogenic bacteria have recently evolved resistance to multiple antibiotics, becoming a global health care risk. We urgently need to develop novel strategies to combat antibiotic resistance and develop evolution-proof antibiotics.

Dr. Han’s research will study and engineer enzymes that could be used as potential antibiotic reagents to degrade a key chemical molecule that bacteria utilize to develop virulence and resistance to antibiotics (biofilm formation). Specifically, Dr. Han will look to discover novel enzymes and perform detailed profiles of these enzymes to interpret their molecular mechanisms. Using state-of-the-art enzyme engineering and laboratory evolution techniques, he will engineer these enzymes for higher stability and functionality and demonstrate anti-virulence and anti-biofilm capabilities of these engineered enzymes, crucial for biotechnological and pharmaceutical applications.

This research program will provide the first mechanistic study of enzymes that disrupt the virulence of diverse pathogenic bacteria, and could have significant impact in the field. Most importantly, this research could provide novel and effective tools to control bacterial population and infection, crucial in the fight against the development of antibiotic resistance.