Outbreaks of bacterial infections still cause severe economic and human losses in 2016. The future
looks even more grim due to the increase of antimicrobial resistance against antibiotics and the
unprecedented discovery void of new antibiotic classes. This could cast us back into a past era
where we were unarmed against bacterial outbreaks. Therefore, new classes of antimicrobials
have to be developed.
Enzyme-based antimicrobials or enzybiotics exploit the natural antibacterial activity of enzymes.
Specifically, we will use endolysins that are found in bacterial viruses, also known as
bacteriophages. Endolysins are specific, work fast and no resistance development can be
provoked. We have proven in the past that we can customize the antibacterial properties of
endolysins and we were the first to make them highly functional against Gram-negative bacteria
for which most antibiotics do not work.
Endolysins are modular proteins and the exact modular composition determines the antibacterial
properties. We will exploit this principle together with microdroplet-based assays to produce
designer enzybiotics against established and emerging bacteria that cause severe economic or
human losses in Belgium.