Bryant University applies for another antibiotic patent

Bryant University applies for another antibiotic patent

Biochemistry professor at Bryant University Christopher Reid hopes the patent on his new antibiotic will lead to further research and clinical trial on the medicine that combats drug-resistant bacteria for pneumonia and MRSA.

SMITHFIELD – Ten years of research has led to a second patent application from Bryant University, one meant to lead to a new antibiotic to combat treatment-resistant bacteria.

Bryant biochemistry and chemistry professor Christopher Reid began working on a new molecular compound a decade ago after discussing the need with a colleague at Brown University.

He enlisted the help of dozens of students along the way, and Pascoag resident Joseph Prete, of the Class of 2021, worked to get his name on one of three patents for the new antibiotics. Reid said the medication remains unnamed, as further research is still needed.

“Patents help protect what we’ve done so far so we can send it out to a broader scientific community,” Reid said.

Animal and clinical trials are down the road. Of all molecules researched, he said, about 1 percent make it to clinical trial.

“We’re still in the early stages trying to identify a molecule that is very effective and understand how it is inhibiting bacterial infections,” Reid said.

As of right now, the new compound is found to fight pneumonia and the antibiotic-resistant MRSA, or methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus. He said because treatment begins after a person is infected, the antibiotic works to prevent the bacteria from spreading.

Think of it as an army encampment, Reid said. Armies come in and execute orders, then break down the camp to move on to the next location. His new antibiotic stops the bacteria in the breakdown process, he said, and prevents it from moving through the body.

Reid explained that antibiotic research is not financially lucrative to large pharmaceutical companies due to the average 10-year lifespan before bacteria become resistant.

“It’s not even worth it,” Reid said.

Prete said antibiotics work to kill bacteria, and over time, will wipe out most of the bacteria causing a certain disease. He said it is not that the bacteria evolve into a resistant form. After treating a bacteria for several years, he said, “only the resistance is left.”

The process takes about 10 years for bacteria, while researchers take much longer to invent a new antibiotic.

That’s where universities and bio-lab companies come in to begin the scientific process of discovering and testing new compounds. If one is promising, the inventor files a patent in hopes of continuing research on a larger scale.

“Our hope is to get this picked up. It would be fantastic to get this to clinical trial,” Reid said.

Companies will research existing antibiotics, such as penicillin, and create new compounds based on its original structure instead. He said most antibiotics are based on organic life, and then modified and tested in labs.

Even penicillin, the first antibiotic discovered in 1928, saw its first drug-resistant bacteria after three years of use, Reid said.

“We play with them (molecules) like kids play with Legos. We mix shapes and colors to bind molecules and see if a particular shape works better or works worse,” Reid said.

Reid said it is hard work, and also luck. “Fortuitous luck,” he said.