Priscila Halicki, PhD
Strategies to Improve the Discovery of New Tuberculosis Drugs From Natural Products
Tuberculosis is an infectious disease caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) and is the second leading cause of death from a single infectious agent after COVID-19. In 2021, the World Health Organization estimated that 10.6 million people contracted tuberculosis and 1.6 million died. Tuberculosis treatment requires a cocktail of four antibiotics taken for at least six months. Because of the long treatment duration and adverse side effects, there is an urgent need for potent new drugs with novel modes of action for killing Mtb.
Natural products — chemical compounds found in nature (such as in plants) — are an outstanding source for potential new drugs. However, prioritizing compounds to investigate is challenging due to their structural diversity, chemical complexity, and broad applications. Using innovative chemical and microbiological strategies, we are developing a method to better assess and prioritize compounds from natural products for their drug development potential. This project will accelerate the identification of compounds with mechanisms of action that could target Mtb.
After years of hard work in the Drug Discovery field, being awarded by the PhRMA Foundation makes me believe I am on the correct path! It is a significant step to motivate me even more to find novel solutions for infectious diseases.