Press Releases

University of Houston Researcher Takes New Approach to Antibiotic Tolerance

Wins National Award to Further Research


Mehmet-Orman-Newsroom1
By Laurie Fickman | April 3, 2018

With a perfect score on his research proposal, chemical and biomolecular engineering researcher Mehmet Orman received the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Career Transition Award, meant to help initiate a successful bioengineering career as an independent research scientist. Orman will use the $250,000 prize to investigate cells that are resistant to antibiotics.

“A small fraction of cells in bacterial populations enter a dormant state. Once these cells become dormant, they intrinsically become tolerant to extraordinary levels of antibiotics,” said Orman. Conventional antibiotics function by targeting the mechanisms that enable the rapid growth of bacterial cell populations, but since the cells don’t grow while dormant, the antibiotics have little chance to work.

Eventually, these persister cells, as they are called, wake up and regain their ability to proliferate. Because of this, persister cells are thought to facilitate the recurrence of infections, and they serve as a reservoir for the emergence of drug resistant mutants. Recurrent infections are generally associated with biofilms, a slimy bacterial film in which persister cells are significantly enriched and can evade the host immune system. Biofilm infections, such as airway infections in cystic fibrosis patients, chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, chronic wound infections, or infections caused by medical devices or prostheses, pose a significant health care problem in the United States.

Using E. coli as a model organism, Orman is aiming to identify and explore the mechanisms in bacterial cells that lead to dormant cell formation to discover new therapeutic strategies that eliminate bacterial persisters.

“I’m going to perform a high-throughput screening to identify candidate genes that regulate the cell dormancy in bacteria,” said Orman. “Then, I can focus on those genes individually and see how they impact the persister levels of the bacterial cells.” The high-throughput screening process allows Orman to screen a large number of genes rapidly.

Orman has been dogged in the study of these stubborn cells. Previously he developed the first methods to directly measure the metabolism of these rare and transient persister cells. He has also developed cell sorting strategies to segregate persisters from highly heterogeneous bacterial cell populations. He will be using these methods in his current research project.

“The physiology of persisters has remained elusive and hindered progress toward eliminating them,” said Orman.




Social Posts

profile_image

Veterans Affairs

@DeptVetAffairs

Veterans use art to help others during their recovery https://t.co/vcMbVOHCEY via @NY1

2 hours ago
profile_image

BCMHouston

@bcmhouston

Managing an overactive bladder can be difficult while traveling for summer vacation. Dr. Alexander Pastuszak shares some tips on what you can do to travel more comfortably. https://t.co/0vIlkV3nlV #overactivebladder #traveltips

3 hours ago
profile_image

UTHealth

@UTHealth

In observance of Men’s Health Month, the experts at UTHealth and @UTPhysicians the clinical practice of @McGovernMed, have identified five things men need to know to keep their health in check: https://t.co/i7EIgZOhWM

3 hours ago
profile_image

Texas Children's

@TexasChildrens

Camp For All 2U brings summer camp to Texas Children's Hospital! Patients are invited to go canoeing, participate in archery and make new friends. Learn more from @HoustonChron : https://t.co/k1slUCnqAn

3 hours ago
profile_image

Memorial Hermann

@memorialhermann

Let’s talk about the Big Four. And we’re not referencing the number of major American pro sports leagues, gentlemen. Read more: https://t.co/INqCdH6RTT. #menshealthmonth https://t.co/iPcveD89NP

4 hours ago
profile_image

Veterans Affairs

@DeptVetAffairs

Q&A: @SecWilkie on VA Mission Act https://t.co/lEsiraS6o4 via @wvpublic

4 hours ago
profile_image

TAMU Health Sciences

@TAMHSC

Today we opened our brand new research facility! The Medical Research and Education Building II doubles the existing research space for the Health Science Center on the Bryan campus. Whoop! 👍Learn more about the MREB II → https://t.co/DtcNt2hlLY https://t.co/slDVZDeXXF

4 hours ago
profile_image

MD Anderson Cancer Center

@MDAndersonNews

Our @DavidHongMD explains how tisotumab vedotin works in treating #cervicalcancer: https://t.co/xebLn7m3cI @OncLive #gynsm #endcancer

4 hours ago
profile_image

University of Houston

@UHouston

RT @UHOnlineCoogs: The B.A and B.S in Psychology is offered online. These completion degrees are for students who have some college credit…

5 hours ago
profile_image

CHI St. Luke's Health

@CHI_StLukes

RT @KHOU: Get well soon, Mack! https://t.co/WDk43ZutWp

5 hours ago
profile_image

MD Anderson Cancer Center

@MDAndersonNews

Want to donate goods or services to MD Anderson to support our patients? Learn about what items can be donated: https://t.co/5HsnmWmxdt #endcancer

5 hours ago
profile_image

University of Houston

@UHouston

RT @UHadmissions: Another week means another #TributeTuesday! Christine Ha, @theblindcook won the @MASTERCHEFonFOX competition, and is also…

6 hours ago
profile_image

MD Anderson Cancer Center

@MDAndersonNews

@vigilcd @JLo We're thinking of you, Camille. Let us know if you need anything while you're here.

6 hours ago
profile_image

Veterans Affairs

@DeptVetAffairs

Today marks the 69-year anniversary of the #KoreanWar, which began on June 25, 1950.We thank all #Veterans who served during this conflict and honor their sacrifice.#HonoringVets https://t.co/r8vw723Mxg

6 hours ago
profile_image

Houston Methodist

@MethodistHosp

RT @Daily_Experts: Congratulations to Dr. Tetsuo Ashizawa of Houston Methodist Hospital -- Recognized as an Expertscape World Expert in Ata…

6 hours ago