WARF: P110268US02

New Antimicrobials for Treating Bacterial Infection and Contamination


Douglas Weibel, Ye Jin Eun, Maoquan Zhou

The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) is seeking commercial partners interested in developing a novel class of antibiotic compounds targeting bacterial cell division.
OVERVIEWThe ability of bacteria to adapt and resist antibiotics has led to growing initiatives in the United States and other countries to develop new drugs and modify existing chemical structures to increase their efficacy. A promising strategy for antibiotic development is to disrupt the cellular machinery that bacteria use to divide. Once viewed as a simple process, bacterial cell division is now recognized to be a complex process that involves a large family of proteins that regulate the location and process of division. The protein machinery that is required for bacterial division often is referred to as the divisome, and many of the molecular components of the divisome are essential for cell viability. Compounds that inhibit divisome activity—in particular those that target the protein FtsZ—have been used to treat Gram-positive strains of bacterial pathogens with certain success. New inhibitors of the divisome that are effective against a variety of different microorganisms will introduce a new chapter in antimicrobial agents.
THE INVENTIONUW–Madison researchers have developed a lead compound and synthetic analogs that represent a new class of antimicrobial weapons.

The researchers identified a new family of small molecules from a high-throughput screen that are inhibitors of bacterial cell division. These compounds are toxic to a range of Gram-negative bacteria, including Escherichia coli, Caulobacter crescentus, Vibrio cholera, Shigella boydii and Acinetobacter baumannii. Compound treatment blocks the assembly and maturation of the divisome in bacteria and leads to the incomplete constriction of the cell division plane. The division process resumes once the compound is washed away.
  • Treating bacterial infections in humans, animals and other subjects
  • Stopping bacterial growth and contamination
  • Investigating new pharmaceuticals
  • Modulating protein activity in vivo
  • Effective against a range of Gram-negative bacteria
  • Targets an essential, widely conserved protein complex
  • Inhibitors are potent and broad spectrum.
For More Information About the Inventors
  • Eun Y.-J., Foss M.H., Kiekebusch D., Pauw D.A., Thanbichler M., Westler, W.M. and Weibel, D.B. 2012. DCAP: A Broad-Spectrum Antibiotic That Targets the Cytoplasmic Membrane of Bacteria. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 134, 11322-11325.
Contact Information
For current licensing status, please contact Rafael Diaz at or 608-960-9847.
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UW–Madison has the integrative capabilities to complete many key components of the drug development cycle, from discovery through clinical trials. As one of the top research universities in the world, and one of the two best-funded universities for research in the country, UW–Madison offers state-of-the-art facilities unmatched by most public universities.

These include the Small Molecule Screening Facility at the UW Comprehensive Cancer Center; the Zeeh Pharmaceutical Experiment Station, which provides consulting and laboratory services for developing formulations and studying solubility, stability and more; the Waisman Clinical Biomanufacturing Facility; the Wisconsin Institute for Medical Research, which provides UW–Madison with a complete translational research facility; and the innovative, interdisciplinary Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery, home to the private, nonprofit Morgridge Institute for Research and its public twin, WID, part of the university's graduate school. The highly qualified experts at these facilities are ready to work with you to create a library of candidates for drug development.