SIUE professor nabs U.S. patent

EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. — Dr. Ronald Worthington, associate professor of pharmaceutical sciences at the School of Pharmacy at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, obtained U.S. Patent No. 8,563,293 for his invention to protect against bacterial contamination. 

“Our goal was to address the inappropriate use of antibiotics in industrial processes,” Worthington said. “There are various scenarios where antibiotics are being used, and it’s imposing huge problems in the emergence of antibiotic resistant bacterial strains.”

The use of antibiotics to control bacterial contamination in industrial operations suffers from a major drawback: immunity to antibiotics over time, which reduces the effectiveness of the antibiotics. The invention uses a systems biology approach to develop a co-resident microbial population that has the ability to produce proteins with bactericidal properties, according to the university. It can be used in fermentation applications where bacterial contamination is a problem.

“Ethanol biofuel production is the most prominent commercial application, where lactic acid bacteria contamination can reduce production efficiency,” Worthington added. “Other potential uses can be found in alcoholic beverage production and other fermentation processes, preservation of foods and possibly as topical antibiotics for human and animal use.”

Worthington joined the SIUE School of Pharmacy in 2005. He earned both bachelor’s and doctoral degrees from Washington University in St. Louis. Worthington's research interests include pharmacogenomics and bioinformatics.

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