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Battling Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria

February 2019

Brian Hilton

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, antibiotic-resistant bacteria infect two million Americans every year, causing at least 23,000 deaths. “It’s definitely a massive, massive problem,” says Brian Hilton, a BYU neuroscience student.

For the last two years, Hilton has worked with Paul Savage’s team to pioneer a solution—a new class of antibiotic molecules called ceragenins, synthetic versions of an antimicrobial agent that is naturally produced by the human body. Tests in Savage’s lab show that bacteria are extremely susceptible to the effects of ceragenins and struggle to obtain resistance to them.

In addition to developing an oral antibiotic made from these new molecules, the lab is working on an antimicrobial coating for endotracheal tubes, which are inserted through the mouth or nose to help patients breathe. These devices are highly prone to contamination.

Hilton, who is applying to medical school, recognizes how blessed he is to work in a lab that is making such significant contributions to the scientific community. “This has not only been a huge strength to my application but also solidified my interest in the medical field.”