We explore ways to combat superbugs

Superbugs are bacteria that cause disease and are resistant to all or many drugs. In one case in January 2017, a US woman died from a superbug infection that had spread throughout her system and could fend off 26 different antibiotics. GRIDD Director Professor Jennifer Martin and her research team are investigating an innovative approach: the discovery of drugs that disarm superbugs rather than killing them.


A structural biologist, Professor Martin and her team focused on understanding the actions of a key bacterial protein, DsbA, which makes up part of the ‘weapons assembly machinery’ in many harmful bacteria. Together with collaborators, her team is discovering which molecules inhibit or stop this machinery with the aim of developing these molecules into new and better antibacterials.The work stems from a seminal paper Professor Martin published 24 years ago that described the atomic resolution three-dimensional structure of this bacterial protein—a protein that turned out to be a master virulence regulator.

Researcher spotlight

Early career research leader Dr Roisin McMahon in Professor Martin’s team is passionate about the characterisation of antivirulence  targets and the identification of novel compounds to block their activity, using protein crystallography and rational structure-based drug discovery approaches. Her research seeks to disrupt bacteria’s ability to infect. Using this antivirulence approach, she is working with collaborators to seek new treatment options for the deadly tropical bacterial disease melioidosis.

Combating multidrug resistance in cancer

Professor Sally-Ann Poulsen has discovered a new way to reverse multidrug resistance in cancer. Find out more on this and other research developments in cancer.

Want to know more?

Get in touch with GRIDD