AoE Research Seminar by Professor HANCOCK (20 November 2013)

UGC Areas of Excellence Scheme on "Control of Pandemic and Inter-Pandemic Influenza" and the Centre of Influenza Research present the following seminar:


Title: “New Therapies for Antibiotic Resistant Infections”


Speaker: Professor Robert HANCOCK, Centre for Microbial Diseases and Immunity Research, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada


Date: 20 November 2013 (Wednesday)


Time: 5:00 pm


Venue: Mrs Chen Yang Foo Oi Telemedicine Centre, 2/F William MW Mong Block, LKS Faculty of Medicine, The University of Hong Kong


About the Speaker: R.E.W. (Bob) HANCOCK OC, OBC, FRSC. He is a Professor of Microbiology & Immunology, UBC, an Associate Faculty Member of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and a Canada Research Chair in Health and Genomics. His research interests include small cationic peptides as novel antimicrobials and modulators of innate immunity, the development of novel treatments for antibiotic resistant infections, the systems biology of innate immunity, inflammatory diseases and Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and antibiotic uptake and resistance. He has published more than 600 papers and reviews, has 44 patents awarded, and is an ISI highly cited author in Microbiology with more than 46,000 citations and an h-index of 112. He has won several awards including the Aventis Pharmaceuticals Award, the leading award for research on antimicrobials, and Canada’s three top prizes for Health Research, and is an Officer of the Order of Canada. He was a co-founder of Migenix, Inimex Pharmaceuticals and the Centre for Drug Research and Development.


Abstract: The antibiotic era, stemming from the deployment of penicillin, introduced arguably the most successful medicines of all time, impacting dramatically on life expectancy by decreasing childhood and adult deaths from infections, and enabling complex surgeries, transplantations and cancer chemotherapy. However the therapy of infectious diseases is now under severe threat. There has been an explosion of not just resistance to antibiotics (and other antimicrobials), but of multiple antibiotic resistance, whereby our entire arsenal of antibiotics is gradually losing effectiveness. We have now seen the development of so-called “Superbugs” that are resistant to most or all of the available agents in our society, including the so-called ESKAPE pathogens. Resistance by itself is a major issue. However, given that the most important tactic in dealing with antibiotic resistant organisms is to shift to a new chemical class of antibiotics (avoiding cross resistance), the paucity of truly novel compounds under development or entering the clinic is cause for major concern, as documented by the IDSA in their “Bad Bugs No Drugs” campaign. Thus it is essential to explore new paradigms for anti-infective therapy of antibiotic resistant Gram negative pathogens, and the new potential to use cationic peptides as selective immune modulators represents one of the most promising of these. Cationic host defence (antimicrobial) peptides are produced by virtually all organisms, ranging from plants and insects to humans, as a major part of their innate defences against infection. We and others have demonstrated that they are a key component of innate immunity and have multiple mechanisms that enable them to deal with infections and inflammation including direct antimicrobial activity, an ability to dissolve bacterial biofilms (the cause of 65% of all human infections) and an ability to favourably modulate the innate immune system. The manipulation of natural innate immunity represents a new adjunctive therapeutic strategy against antibiotic-resistant infections. Cationic host defence peptides boost protective innate immunity while suppressing potentially harmful inflammation/sepsis, and work synergistically with conventional therapy. Using the principle of selective boosting of innate immunity we have developed novel small innate defence regulator (IDR) peptides with no direct antibacterial activity, that are nevertheless able to protect in animal models against many different microbial infections, including antibiotic resistant infections and cerebral malaria, as well as inflammatory diseases, providing a new concept in anti-infective therapy. For example we have demonstrated protection in infection models against the superbug methicillin resistant Staph aureus (MRSA), and Vancomycin resistant Enterococcus (VRE) as well as E. coli, P. aeruginosa, tuberculosis, and cerebral malaria. Systems approaches have helped considerably in understanding the how these agents work and they are currently being developed pre-clinically to treat diseases of animals and man. We have also developed novel antibiofilm peptides that (i) kill multiple species of bacteria in biofilms (MBEC < 1 mg/ml), including P. aeruginosa and other major clinically relevant Gram negative bacteria, especially the so-called ESKAPE pathogens, as well as Gram positive MRSA, Listeria and Enterococcus, (ii) work synergistically with antibiotics in mulitple species, and (iii) are effective in animal models of biofilm infections. These peptides can prevent biofilm formation and cause dispersal and/or death of bacteria in pre-formed biofilms.

All are welcome.