Antibacterial drugs have played an essential role in the global increase in quality of life and life expectancy. However, these gains are at serious risk due to bacterial drug-resistance. There are seven major classes of antibacterials in clinical use and bacteria resistant to all of these antibacterial drugs have been identified widely. Indeed, resistance to multiple classes of antibiotics is normal for resistant bacteria due to the acquisition of plasmids or transposons that carry multiple drug-resistant genes. As a result, infectious disease mortality in the developed world is increasing once again. Currently, there are two paths being taken towards the discovery of more effective antibacterials against multi-drug resistant strains: 1) target resistance mechanisms; 2) search for new antibacterial agents with novel modes of action.
Research is underway in the Spring group looking at the discovery of novel antimicrobial agents which target or overcome resistance mechanisms. This work encompasses research in all of our subgroups; active projects include the development of antimicrobial stapled peptides and peptide-drug conjugates to target bacterial membranes and efflux pumps and the synthesis of novel small-molecules to enable the elucidation of enzymatic pathways in clinically relevant bacterial strains. This work is conducted in collaboration with Martin Welch (Department of Biochemistry, University of Cambridge) and Hendrik Van Veen (Department of Pharmacology, University of Cambridge).