Developing the first DNA structured antibiotic

Associate Professor Serap Evran from Ege University, shares her story about how the Newton Katip Çelebi Fund, Institutional Links Programme enabled her to develop a solution to potentially save the lives of many.

This prestigious programme allowed us to foster collaboration with a pioneering research group in this field. – Associate Professor Serap Evran, Ege University

According to World Health Organisation reports, Turkey ranks the highest in antibiotics use in Europe and the consumption is increasing rapidly. If the use of antibiotics continues to rise at the same pace, most antibiotics will be ineffective against many bacterial infections in a decade.

Collaborating with my co-researcher, Shiranee Sriskandan from Imperial College London (ICL) under the Newton Fund Institutional Links Programme, we initiated a project to solve this widespread health problem by creating the first antibiotic with DNA-structured molecules in Turkey.

Unlike the common chemical method, which takes up to two years to generate an alternative antibiotic, newly developed DNA-structured molecules will enable us to modify the structure easily and produce a new effective antibiotic in less than half the time of the traditional methods. 

The UK team, who are experts in the bacterial infection, helped us to understand the molecular basis of infection from a clinical perspective. The Turkish team offered the technology used for the discovery of DNA-based molecules, which could potentially help with developing new antibiotics or with diagnostics, and the technical capacity of Ege University.

The Newton Fund empowered us to establish this antibiotic discovery platform for the first time in Turkey. We’re at the beginning of a long development journey: once we prove the effectiveness of the antibiotics, in collaboration with our UK partner, we can pitch this process to local or global pharmaceutical companies. We’ve recently applied for a national funding programme to expand our work and are searching for more funding opportunities to take our research even further.