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UK Grants Support Novel Methods of Combating Resistant Infections

Researchers at the University of Bristol received a grant to develop a rapid diagnostic test that can predict what type of antibiotic should be used to treat infection, according to a press release.

In addition, another grant was awarded to other university researchers to create nanopatterned surfaces that can kill antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Both grants — AMR Theme 2: Accelerating Therapeutic and Diagnostics Development Innovation Grants — are designed to “support untested, high-risk/high-reward research,” the release said. They are funded by a consortium of four United Kingdom research councils.

“Bacteria defeat antibiotics in many ways, but most produce enzymes — machines that destroy antibiotics,” Matthew B. Avison, PhD, senior lecturer in microbiology at the university’s School of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, said in the release. “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.”

Avison will focus on developing a rapid diagnostic test to predict which antibiotic should be used initially. This test would help physicians prescribe effective antibiotics, while preventing over-reliance on the strongest antibiotics.

Bo Su, PhD, professor of biomedical materials in the School of Oral and Dental Sciences, received the second grant to create nanopatterned surfaces that can kill antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

“Biomaterials-associated infection is one of the dominant causes of implant failure,” Su said. “Currently, antimicrobial biomaterials are largely reliant upon antibiotics and antimicrobial agents. However, a critical drawback is that they are transient.

“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.”

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