"Bacteria can become extinct just like saber-tooth tigers did"

Pierre Stallforth on the new research field of paleobiotechnology

Pierre Stallforth stands in a laboratory with his arms folded
Pierre Stallforth in his laboratory in the Leibniz-HKI | Source: Anna Schroll / Leibniz-HKI

Pierre Stallforth has recently been appointed Professor of Bioorganic Chemistry and Paleobiotechnology at Friedrich Schiller University Jena. At the same time, he is establishing his new research area of paleobiotechnology at the Leibniz-HKI in Jena. The goal of his research is to recover natural substances that have previously disappeared and could be used against drug-resistant bacteria.

One of the things that fascinate him about researching antibiotics is that it connects basic research with relevant translational fields. Counteracting the increasing antibiotic resistance of bacteria is one of the major global challenges of the coming years. At the same time, pharmaceutical companies are conducting hardly any research on new active ingredients as it is not financially rewarding. "New antibiotics should only be used as reserve antibiotics in order to avoid new resistances," Stallforth explains.

"As part of my work in the Balance of the Microverse Cluster of Excellence, I met archaeologist Christina Warinner, who is looking for remnants of bacteria in prehistoric samples, especially in the tartar of early humans," Stallforth says. "I found the possibility of using these samples as a source of yet undiscovered natural products interesting." The molecules of early bacteria could have very different modes of action than those of today's microorganisms.

Staff

Pierre Stallforth
Christina Warinner

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Michael Ramm

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