Fighting opportunistic infections
Vivian Cody, Ph.D.

codyCertain microorganisms, often referred to as opportunistic pathogens, prey on people with weakened immune systems such as AIDS patients or those undergoing transplant surgery or chemotherapy.

A major focus of the Cody laboratory is to determine the differences between a particular protein in a pathogen and the analogous protein in humans. Understanding these differences is essential in designing new drugs that will attack only the opportunistic pathogen, while having little effect on the normal human enzyme.

Such highly specific inhibitors have potential as therapeutic agents for the treatment of AIDS-related pneumonia and other infections in immunocompromised patients.

Drug resistance is a problem encountered in the treatment of many diseases and limits the effectiveness of the drugs, particularly for diseases such as cancer and HIV AIDS.  Often the sequence of the enzyme that is targeted by the drug has been changed or mutated in response to drug treatment, thereby making the drug ineffective.  The Cody Lab is studying the distribution of mutations in the pathogenic enzyme found in drug-resistant  HIV AIDS patients.  However, simply knowing the changes in sequence is not sufficient to understand how these mutations cause drug resistance.  The three-dimensional architecture of the enzyme is important to this understanding and is the focus of current work in the Cody Lab.

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