Antibiotics are widely used in companion animal medicine and bring significant benefits to pet health and well-being. However, the spread of antibiotic resistance (AMR), where bacterial infections can no longer be treated successfully, is challenging their successful use in veterinary medicine. This is also a One-Heath problem, with AMR affecting both animals and humans and able to spread between them. The continued rise of AMR would have a devastating impact on animal welfare. Morbidity and mortality to infections would increase hugely; even routine infections that are currently treatable could become life threatening. The increased difficulty in treating infections could render much of modern veterinary medicine (such as critical care, complex operations and cancer treatment) almost impossible. There could be further indirect impacts of AMR to pet welfare - if treatments become more expensive owners might decline them or be deterred from seeking treatment in the first place leading to increased animal suffering, abandonment and euthanasia.
It is therefore critical for pet animal welfare to tackle the problem of AMR. One attractive strategy is to identify alternative therapies that could be used instead of, or alongside, current antibiotic. In this project, we will investigate the potential to use bacteriophages, viruses that can infect and kill bacteria, to treat canine bacterial infections. There are several exciting examples of the successful use of phage therapy in human medicine to treat multidrug resistant bacterial infections. However, despite the promise of phage therapy, little work has been done to exploit this approach in veterinary medicine. This work will target the bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which is a common cause of severe AMR-infections in pet dogs (particularly ear infections), and evaluate the potential of phage therapy as a much-needed new treatment.
Informal enquiries are welcome to primary supervisor Dr Gavin Paterson email: [Email Address Removed]
Supported by BSAVA PetSavers, a fully-funded one year MScR is available at the University of Edinburgh within the Roslin Institute and Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, to start no later than 1st October 2022.
Candidates should have at least a 2:1 Honours degree (or equivalent) in microbiology or related subjects.
A statement of interest and full CV with names and addresses (including email addresses) of two academic referees, should be emailed to [Email Address Removed].
When applying for the studentship please state clearly the project title and the supervisor in your covering letter.
Closing date for applications Monday 18th April 2022.