More than 700,000 people die worldwide each year because of antimicrobial-resistant bacteria – otherwise known as superbugs. If left unchecked, annual deaths could reach 50 million by 2050. 

“These figures are alarming and stress the urgent need to develop new strategies for antimicrobials to stop these bugs taking hold,” says Dr Michael Currie.

Dr Currie has been granted $110,000 from the Canterbury Medical Research Foundation to look at how to prevent pathogenic bacteria from obtaining nutrients from the body. His research is expected to set the foundation on which to develop new antimicrobials to fight disease-causing bacteria.

Dr Currie is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Canterbury and a specialist in biochemistry and structural biology. His recently completed PhD research focused on the structure of transporter proteins, known as TRAP transporters, which transport nutrients into bacteria and allow them to grow. The grant from the Canterbury Medical Research Foundation will enable him to take that research a step further.

Michael Currie

“Our previous research determined the first molecular-resolution structure of a TRAP transporter, which basically means we know what they look like and how they work. 

“This latest project will look at which molecules best disrupt TRAP transporters, as by removing the transporters ability to do its job we will reduce the ability of superbugs to cause infections.”

Dr Currie is one of the emerging researchers supported through the Canterbury Medical Research Foundation’s annual grants programme.

“Having the Canterbury Medical Research Foundation support my research project and career is hugely humbling, and I’m very excited to step into the role of principal investigator for this research project. 

“It’s important to me that my work makes a difference and this project will do just that as we expect our findings will help advance the development of new treatments for antimicrobial-resistant bacteria.”

Dr Currie has a PhD in Biochemistry from the University of Canterbury. He has spent time in laboratories in India, the USA and Canada gathering expertise in protein characterisation (particularly membrane protein biology).

More information can be found here. 

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