Second Look: Dr. Larry Sutton

Megan Marley, The Circuit

Watch out, antibiotic-resistant superbugs.

Dr. Larry Sutton, associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry at Benedictine College and scientific founder of Gladius Pharmaceuticals, Inc., is working in tandem with scientists and Benedictine research assistants to tackle the problem of antibiotic resistance.

“We’re going after this in many different ways,” Sutton said.

“We’re looking at ways of trying to make our food safer. We’re trying to find alternative ways of growing our food that doesn’t cause antibiotic resistance. And, we’re trying to find new drugs to treat people that have antibiotic resistant infections.”

Antibiotic resistance is Sutton’s forte.

“Back in my residencies in the 1990’s, I became interested in antibiotic resistance. That’s when it became a real problem,” Sutton said.

“You find a lot of applications of chemistry, polymers and stuff like that,” he continued.

“That’s also part of the reason why I got my MD and PhD degrees. I wanted the application of making new medicines.”

Recently, his work through Gladius Pharmaceuticals received $4.1 million Canadian dollars in venture capital financing backed by pharmaceutical giants such as Merck and GlaxoSmithKline.

A number of student and faculty research assistants work with him from a lab on campus.

“His lab is connected to his office,” said Angela Poffenberger, student researcher.

“So, whenever I get a result or plot finished, I just pop my head in and ask him any question. He’s always in the office.”

“Doing research with Dr. Sutton gives you more of an experience of what it’s like to be a scientist professionally, because you’re actively experimenting and trying to advance the world of science,” said Cody Sherlock, adjunct instructor and department assistant who also conducts research with Sutton.

“What we do here, the specifically academic aspects, are the more esoteric details like looking at the mechanisms of antibiotic resistance, how these bugs actually biochemically accomplish deactivating antibiotics,” Sutton said.

“The more knowledge we have, we’re better equipped to make compounds that can evade those mechanisms and bring potency back to the antibiotics to cure people.”