Pentagon awards $500K to Jax, biotech for drug resistance study

Sep 14, 2018

Farmington's Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine and biotech firm Azitra Inc. said they won a $500,000 grant from the Pentagon to establish a program studying organisms that cause rare skins infections.

Jackson Laboratory and its Farmington-based neighbor Azitra, a preclinical biotechnology company treating a variety of skin conditions, will use the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) funding to study how microorganism-killing agents produced by a bacteria called Staphylococcus epidermidis (S. epidermidis) can inhibit an organism -- Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) -- that causes skins infections including "staph."

Jax and Azitra plan to use various genetic tools and growth mechanisms to study how potent antimicrobial medicines, which kill or stop the growth of microorganisms, can be used to combat skins infections.

Dr. Julia Oh, an assistant professor at Jax and skin microbiome expert, will serve as Jax principal investigator for the research and Travis Whitfill, Azitra's founder and chief scientific officer, will serve as its principal investigator.

"The microbiome offers a new approach to understanding skin disease and developing new strategies to improve patients' lives," Oh said. "This research will extend our understanding of how the bacteria making up the microbiome compete and has the potential to generate new tools to combat challenges such as staph infections."