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UC Researcher Calls New Lung Drug A "Game Changer"

Daniel Hassett, PhD, (center) is shown with Warunya Panmanee, PhD, research associate, (left) and Cameron McDaniel, PhD student (right) in a laboratory in the UC College of Medicine.

Lingering lung infections may be a thing of the past thanks to a new drug developed by a University of Cincinnati researcher.

Daniel Hassett, Ph.D., a professor in the UC Department of Molecular Genetics, Biochemistry and Microbiology, now has a patent for the drug which may also kill infections in diabetic and heart patients.

Hassett says unlike antibiotics, his drug, an antimicrobial, "wipes out" the bug by destroying the DNA, RNA, lipid, protein, and adenosine triphosphate (ATP), five vital organs of the bacterium.

"It's a synergistic one-two punch. In fact, our drug kills all bacteria and there's no possibility for resistance," he says. 

Patients who will benefit the most are those with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and cystic fibrosis (CF). It is being administered to patients in a clinical trial at Cincinnati's VA Medical Center as a nebulized (inhaled) solution or powder.

"I started meeting people who had cystic fibrosis and found out they would cough up their sputum; it was really smelly, greenish looking stuff, and there was no good treatment for it," says Hassett. "I said then, it's going to be my life's goal to find a major treatment where we kill these nasty antibiotic-resistant bacteria."

Hassett calls the drug, named AB569 right now, "a global game changer and has the potential to positively impact lives around the world."

With more than 30 years of journalism experience in the Greater Cincinnati market, Ann Thompson brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her reporting. She has reported for WKRC, WCKY, WHIO-TV, Metro Networks and CBS/ABC Radio. Her work has been recognized by the Associated Press and the Society of Professional Journalists. In 2019 and 2011 A-P named her “Best Reporter” for large market radio in Ohio. She has won awards from the Association of Women in Communications and the Alliance for Women in Media. Ann reports regularly on science and technology in Focus on Technology.