Novel Antibiotic Targeting of Protozoan Tyrosyl-tRNA Synthetase Facilitated in Selectivity and Specificity by Horizontal Gene Transfer

Technology #14427

Questions about this technology? Ask a Technology Manager

Download Printable PDF

Professor Eric Alm
Department of Biological Engineering, MIT
External Link (
Professor Gregory Fournier
The Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, MIT
Managed By
Jon Gilbert
MIT Technology Licensing Officer
Patent Protection

Methods and products related to protozoan disease

US Patent Pending 2015-0166562


This invention may be used to treat protozoan infections like malaria.

Problem Addressed

Many diseases caused by protozoan infection (e.g., malaria, leishmania, giardia, sleeping sickness, amoebic dysentery) are difficult and expensive to treat, use drugs with substantial side effects, or occur in remote regions with little access to facilities such as refrigeration. There is a great need for improved protozoan infection treatments as the incidence of drug resistance increases and protozoan infections remain an international leading cause of death.


The Tyr binding pocket of the essential and highly-conserved tyrosyl-tRNA synthetase (TyRS) protein differs at several key residues in fungi and animals from protozoans. This evolutionary event provides a unique opportunity for targeting selective antibiotic treatment of protozoan disease. Herein, we have identified a method for treating protozoan disease in humans including small molecule drugs that can be used to selectively target and eliminate these protozoans. These new drugs provide an alternative to existing therapies on the market, but are also essential as more drug resistant strains of protozoans, like malaria, emerge.


  • Specific to protozoan infections
  • Non-drug resistant small molecule therapies