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Engineering biosensors for the detection of bacterial proteins

   School of Pharmacy and Bioengineering

  Dr P Ragazzon  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Superbug outbreaks are more likely to occur in a healthcare environment and are causing an increasing number of deaths every year. The most relevant superbugs calling for immediate action are Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE), Extended-spectrum β-lactamase (ESBL)-producing Enterobacteriaceae, Vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE), Multidrug-resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Multidrug-resistant Acinetobacter, and E.coli H30-Rx. Several approaches can be taken to identify the infectious agent on the patient (blood, sputum, urine, stool, tissue, cerebrospinal fluid, mucus).

The identification includes a variety of tests such as examination under a microscope, culture, antibodies and antigen testing, or genetic material (bacterial DNA or RNA).

Though some antibiotics are still effective against some of these infectious agents, one of the main concerns is the delayed time in assessing which antibiotic to give to a compromised patient. This project aims to develop a rapid and highly sensitive biosensor kit, for this we will engineer and produce selective aptamers aimed at detecting different types of beta-lactamases of the most relevant pathogenic bacteria.

Aptamers are a novel and particularly interesting targeting modality, with a unique ability to bind to a variety of targets including proteins, peptides, enzymes, antibodies, and various cell surface receptors. Aptamers are single stranded oligonucleotides that vary in size between 25 and 50 bases long and are derived from combinatorial libraries through selective targeting. They offer unique benefits compared to other targeting agents, in that they bind with high affinity and selectivity, are easily and quickly synthesised using in vitro techniques, and are stable and consistent.

In this project you will:

•          Develop practical molecular biology skills for the development of aptamers,

•          Develop practical skills for building biosensors and analysis,

•          Develop transferable skills such as reporting results, data presentation, time management and project planning.

When applying, please ensure you quote FMHS_PROCT2022 in your application.

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