Antimicrobial materials – synthesis of novel peptides, nanoparticles and organic polymers to targeting antibiotic resistance in bacteria

Research Opportunity
Honours
Number of Honour Places Available
1
Number of Master Places Available
1
Department
Melbourne Dental School
Location
Bio21 Molecular Science and Biotechnology Institute,Royal Dental Hospital Melbourne
Primary Supervisor Email Number Webpage
Prof Neil O'Brien-Simpson neil.obs@unimelb.edu.au
Co-supervisor Email Number Webpage
Dr Wenyi Li
Dr Jason Lenzo
Dr James Holden

Summary This project will use an iterative chemical biology approach to modify AMPs or SNAPPs to enhance their antibiotic adjuvant properties and restore antibiotic sensitivity to MDR bacteria that are major causes of sepsis and nosocomial infections

Project Details

By 2050 it is predicted that more people will die from bacterial infections than cancer and this mortality will have an projected economic impact of U.S $60-100 trillion per year1. Currently, multidrug resistant (MDR) bacterial infections cause >700,000 deaths/year and incur an estimated annual treatment cost of >U.S. $20 billion2. Antimicrobial resistance is considered as ‘one of our most serious health threats’2 and there is now unanimous agreement that new, potent and selective antimicrobial agents that do not induce resistance like traditional antibiotics are urgently required. We have three areas of research which we would like to recruit Honours, Masters and PhD students too, these are;

  1. Antimicrobial nanomaterials. We are investigating a number of antimicrobial nanomaterials from metal and metalloid nanoparticles to recently described a novel antimicrobial technology termed Structurally Nanoengineered Antimicrobial Peptide Polymers (SNAPPs). This project will use a variety of novel assays we have developed in combination with established assays in our laboratories in an iterative chemical biology approach to modify antimicrobial nanomaterials to enhance targeting and killing of Gram-negative bacteria that are MDR antibiotic threats and major causes of sepsis.
  2. Antimicrobial peptides targeting oral bacteria. The oral cavity is a known reservoir for transferable antibiotic resistance7, a phenomenon increased in patients with the bacterial disease chronic periodontitis8. Chronic periodontitis affects 1 in 3 dentate adults9,10 and the current treatment of both mechanical scrapping and antibiotics is ineffective and are failing to combat antibiotic resistance in this disease. We have identified antimicrobial peptides that kill oral pathogens and this project will investigate methods for narrowing the discovered AMPs spectrum of activity to only target periodontal pathogens, reduce cytotoxicity and leave unharmed the bacteria associated with oral health.
  3. Antibiotic adjuvants. One approach addressing the global threat of increasing antibiotic resistance is to combine antibiotics with a compound, termed an antibiotic adjuvant, that potentiates or restores the antibiotics activity towards MDR bacteria.

This project will use an iterative chemical biology approach to modify AMPs or SNAPPs to enhance their antibiotic adjuvant properties and restore antibiotic sensitivity to MDR bacteria that are major causes of sepsis and nosocomial infections



Faculty Research Themes

Infection and Immunology

School Research Themes

Oral Infection and Immunity



Research Opportunities

Honours
Students who are interested in joining this project will need to consider their elegibility as well as other requirements before contacting the supervisor of this research

Graduate Research application

Honours application

Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact a supervisor.

Department

Melbourne Dental School

Research Node

Bio21 Molecular Science and Biotechnology Institute,Royal Dental Hospital Melbourne

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