Timor Baasov, Ph.D., Haifa, Israel
Since 2008, we have collaborated with the group of Dr. Timor Baasov, at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa. The collaboration centers on the relatively recently- discovered ability of aminoglycoside antibiotics to promote ‘read-through’ of premature stop codons in genetic disorders. A variety of human genetic diseases are based on mutations that create premature stop codons in the genetic sequence and thereby prevent the synthesis of a full and functional protein. Experiments in model systems and preliminary clinical trials have shown that in the presence of aminoglycoside antibiotics, these premature codons can be overwritten and functional proteins be synthesized. Together with Baasov’s group, we are exploring how the structural requirements for this novel therapeutic application of aminoglycoside antibiotics correlate with their ototoxicity.
Erik Böttger, M.D., Zürich, Switzerland
Since 2008, we have collaborated with a group of Professor Eric Böttger of the University of Zurich in Switzerland. Together we are addressing one of the disputed questions in aminoglycoside toxicity. Since aminoglycoside antibiotics kill bacteria at least in part by their ability to bind to RNA and misdirect protein synthesis, it has long been speculated that aminoglycoside antibiotics exert a similar action on mammalian mitochondrial ribosomes. Böttger’s group is refining the action of aminoglycoside antibiotics by synthesizing compounds with specifically altered interactions with bacterial ribosomes and studying their antibacterial activity. With the help of these compounds, our groups would like to resolve the question as to whether RNA binding and ototoxicity are correlated. As a consequence, we will be able to create novel antibacterial compounds devoid of ototoxicity and have already obtained exciting lead compounds.
Nino Sharashenidze, Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia
Our collaboration with colleagues in the Republic of Georgia started in 2002 with the group around Professor Zurab Kevanishvili at the Center for Hearing Rehabilitation in Tbilisi on projects of joint interest. We initiated clinical studies on gentamicin-induced hearing loss (with Dr. Eka Kharkheli) and we are continuing with Dr. Nino Sharashenidze and the department of Otolaryngology at Aghmashenebeli University on topics of age-related hearing loss and drug-induced hearing loss in children.