Research to develop new antibiotics
Researcher's Grand Prix-cadidate Illimar Hugo Rekand is working to keep us healthy. He is investigating new opportunities for making new medicines in a world where antibiotic resistance is an increasing challenge.
It is a fact that both over-medication and the use of antibiotics, for example in the meat industry, cause more and more bacteria to protect themselves against medicine (read this article on NRK.no, in Norwegian).
"Bacteria have the advantage that they have a short life span, and the ability to adapt to changes. At the same time, new antibiotics have not been developed for decades", says Ph.D.-candidate Illimar Hugo Rekand, who works at the Department of Biomedicine and is also affiliated with the Department of Chemistry.
Manipulate cell function
Together with the research team lead by principal investigator Ruth Brenk, he is looking for new ways to make medicines that effectively attack bacteria.
Specifically, they investigate how a copy of the bacterial DNA, an RNA in the bacterium, can be manipulated to turn genes on and off in the bacterial cell. In this way you can disrupt a natural process in the cell's development. Such RNA entities are called "riboswitch" and are found only in bacterial cells.
This is an advantage, says Rekand:"Finding substances that destroy the bacteria, but which leave our own healthy cells in peace, is the major challenge in the development of antibiotics."
Communicates new hope
According to Rekand, research on new antibiotics is on the rise, but there is still not much focus on this in the public domain.
"When I tell people about my work, they think it's nice that research is done on this. Through the media, they may get the impression that all hope is out, says Rekand.
He participates in Researcher Grand Prix precisely because he thinks that public education is important:"It is our social responsibility as researchers to convey to the general public what the taxpayers' money goes to," he emphasizes.
There is also a chance for the PhD fellow to further develop his communication skills "Everyone who takes a doctoral degree wants to talk about what they are doing, and here I learn a lot of new skills: good pronounciation, how to present myself and use body language to convey the message in the best possible way.
Follow Illimar Hugo Rekand and Siri Flagstad Kvalheim at the Department of Clinical Dentistry at the Researcher Grand Prix on 26 September.