We are trying to solve an important clinical question "How can you find out what bacteria are in patients lungs, how many are there, what they are doing there, and what their antibiotic resistance might be, in less than ten minutes?" Our approach is to develop inhalable forms of stable isotope tracers that are uniquely metabolized by bacteria to labeled gasses that we detect in exhaled breath. It takes a complex team to do this research- people to make the tracers and deliver them, people to do the microbiology, and people to analyze the results. The expertise of CSI faculty and staff, and their access to world class facilities, has been central to the success of our work. We have been measuring all sorts of interesting bacterial biochemistry, in situ, and we think the approach might be broadly useful. In particular, providing tools for a ten minute diagnosis of tuberculosis and its susceptibility to key drugs like isoniazid, pyrazinamide and pretomanid, could transform the fight against this devastating disease.
Graham is an Associate Professor of Medicinal Chemistry at the College of Pharmacy. He received his PhD in 1990 (Leeds UK) and has been on the faculty at UNM since 2001. His research focuses upon reactive intermediates and metabolic transformations. Stable isotopes are used to both study and modify bacterial metabolic transformation, providing new classes of diagnostics and anti-TB drugs. Recent work has focused upon developing rapid stable isotope based breath tests to diagnose lung infections and determine bacterial antibiotic sensitivity in a point of care manner. Other recent work is focused upon utilizing novel magnetic isotope effects through stable isotope substitutions to enhance the activity of key TB drugs such as isoniazid, with significant enhancement seen in vitro and in vivo. The commercialization of these approaches remains a priority.