Dr. Hans Wildschutte

Dr. Hans Wildschutte and a BGSU student looking at bacterial growth.

Grace Holladay | Reporter

Dr. Hans Wildschutte, associate professor in the BGSU Department of Biological Sciences, is leading research into counteragents targeting antibiotic-resistant pathogens. Since 2018, Wildschutte has received nearly $1 million in funding for the research from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS).

Wildschutte intends to use the funds to step into the next phase of his hunt for new antibiotics: identifying naturally-occurring bacteria that might be able to inhibit pathogens. In a collaboration with Dr. Kou-San Ju, assistant professor of microbiology, medicinal chemistry and pharmacognosy at the Ohio State University, Wildschutte plans to work towards purifying and characterizing new compounds from such environmental strains to assist in the development of new antibiotics.

According to a statement from Wildschutte, such tasks now rest dominantly in the hands of university researchers, with novel antibiotic discovery being pushed to the back burner at many pharmaceutical companies. Yet, pathogens continue to evolve against antibiotic treatments. Some have now been categorized as fully-resistant to all known antibiotics, raising a sense of urgency to bring new treatments to the table. 

According to a report from the University of Oxford, “First comprehensive analysis of global impact of antimicrobial (AMR) estimates resistance itself caused 1.27 million deaths in 2019.” 

Additionally, Dr. Wildschutte projects that, “By the year 2050, infections from multidrug resistant (MDR) pathogens (are) predicted to surpass cancer and be the leading cause of death around the world,” in his research interest summary.

This problem does not end with pathogens. Due to the increasing presence of antibiotics in the environment from overuse in activities such as agriculture, many bacteria are also developing accelerated resistance. As these infectious agents continue to evolve unopposed, it will become increasingly frequent for the common person to do something as simple as fall, scrape their knee, and contract a potentially untreatable ailment.

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