Cassandra L. Quave, PhD
The Quave Lab research focuses on the identification and mechanistic exploration of novel small molecule inhibitors of staphylococcal pathogenesis and virulence pathways. Their hope is that this work will lead to the better understanding and eventual application of a botanical natural product to be used as an adjuvant therapy to conventional antibiotics in the treatment of toxin-mediated staphylococcal infection. To date, there are no anti- virulence drugs available on the pharmaceutical market for S. aureus infection, though many agree that such drugs are desperately needed.
As a graduate student, Dr. Quave documented the traditional use of this plant in the treatment of skin inflammations in traditional south Italian folk medicine. She was the first to document the quorum-quenching effects of medicinal plant products in a staphylococcal model. Dr. Quave then spent 3 years as a postdoctoral fellow at UAMS, where she concentrated on the bioassay-guided fractionation of other natural product extracts, testing them against other pathogenesis targets such as biofilms, in particular. This work on staphylococcal pathogenesis targets led to UAMS filing a patent to protect the discovery of an anti-biofilm agent and the formation of PhytoTEK LLC, to which the patent is licensed for further research and development efforts. The Quave Lab is in the process of filing a new provisional patent on the quorum quenching natural products currently being isolated in my lab, and which will be subjected to further study in the current proposal.
Dr. Quave is very interested in developing solutions to the issue of drug resistant staphylococcal infection. Her core approach in these efforts is based on the study of medicinal plants for their capacity to target pathogenicity via interruption of bacterial signaling (quorum sensing-mediated toxin production) and interference with biofilm formation. This is truly a non-traditional approach to assessing medicinal plants for potential clinical applications. The advantages of targeting bacterial virulence rather than growth are multifold, and such therapies can work by enhancing the ability of the host immune response to clear an infection while avoiding some of the selective pressures responsible for the development of resistance. She believes that the solution to toxin-mediated and biofilm-associated staphylococcal infection may lay with a botanical natural product. Dr. Quave is highly motivated and determined to develop new approaches in the treatment of infectious disease using clues offered by complementary and alternative medicine.