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New innovations to combat antmicrobial resistant infections

12 May 2016

Two scientists at the University of Bristol have been awarded prestigious research grants to develop novel technologies that will help fight the rise of antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

Funded by a consortium of four UK research councils through a focussed call, 'AMR Theme 2: Accelerating Therapeutic and Diagnostics Development', Innovation Grants are designed to support untested, high risk / high reward research that will provide new insights, be transformative and stimulate creative thinking.

One of the University of Bristol projects is led by Dr Matthew Avison in the School of Cellular and Molecular Medicine. It aims to develop a new rapid diagnostic test that can predict which antibiotics might be used to treat an infection. Such a test would help doctors prescribe effective antibiotics first time and make them less reliant on the latest, strongest antibiotics, holding them back for when their use is really necessary.

Dr Avison said:

“Bacteria defeat antibiotics in many ways, but most produce enzymes – machines that destroy antibiotics. If we identify these enzymes in an infection, we can alert doctors to steer clear of certain antibiotics, and focus on the ones most likely to work.”

The other project, led by Professor Bo Su in the School of Oral and Dental Sciences, aims to generate novel nanopatterned surfaces on clinically relevant materials that are able to kill a wide range of bacteria, including antimicrobial-resistant pathogens.

Professor Su said:

“Biomaterials-associated infection is one of the dominant causes of implant failure. Currently, antimicrobial biomaterials are largely reliant upon antibiotics and antimicrobial agents. However, a critical drawback is that they are transient. Over a period of time, the reservoir of leaching antimicrobial agent is limited and subject to depletion. Inspired by nanostructured surfaces found on insect wings, which kill bacteria through physical rupture of their cell walls, we hope to develop such novel antimicrobial surfaces that will be used for next-generation biomedical devices and implants.”

Dr Avison is also Impact Lead for the BristolBridge consortium, which is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council to 'Bridge the Gaps' between engineers and physical scientists and those with expertise in AMR. He added:

"The award of two AMR Innovation Grants to Bristol University further enhances our already extensive portfolio of AMR research. And thanks to BristolBridge-funded pump-priming projects, we look forward to seeing Bristol University academics develop more technological solutions to the threat of AMR in the future."
New innovations to combat antmicrobial resistant infections
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