Manipulating the Fight between Human Host Cells and intracellular Pathogens

In the past two decades almost no new antibiotics have emerged. However, the alarming increase in bacterial resistance to most currently available antibiotics has led to an urgent medical need for new therapeutic approaches. The "BattleX" team is following a promising route.

Using the Shigella sp., a bacterium that causes dysentery in 160 million people all over the world every year, BattleX is investigating which metabolic interactions take place between human host cells and these bacteria and which of these interactions might serve as target points for new antibiotics.

Medically relevant model

Metabolism is one sub-system of the host-pathogen interaction network. It is highly relevant for pathogen growth and host control, and provides especially attractive targets for antimicrobials. In addition, metabolism is by far the best understood large network in host cells and pathogens. BattleX's goal is to establish and use an accurate genome-scale model of metabolic host-pathogen interactions as a basis to develop novel strategies to combat infections; specifically, to identify novel targets/target combinations in metabolism in order to be able to control shigellosis. This model is medically relevant and offers unique advantages for a systems approach.

Searching for the ultimate breakdown

The metabolic model will provide an unprecedented quantitative system level description of the battle between pathogen and host for metabolic resources to support growth and cell maintenance. The detailed understanding will enable a rational identification of innovative targets/target combinations in both the pathogen and the host to combat infection. This innovative approach will be developed for this particular highly suitable model system. However, the hope is that the new concepts, technology, and results will be applicable to a wide range of major infectious diseases.

Principal Investigator Prof. Dirk Bumann, Biozentrum, University of Basel
Involved Institutions University of Basel, EPF Lausanne, ETH Zurich, University of Zurich, SIB, UCSD/USA
Number of Research Groups 7
Project Duration Jan. 2010 - Dec. 2013
Approved Funds CHF 4.974 million

Updated September 2012 


Prof. Dr. Dirk Bumann
Infection Biology
University of Basel
Klingelbergstr. 50/70
CH - 4056 Basel
phone +41 61 267 23 82