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Nanoparticle-based therapeutics to combat multidrug resistance and biofilms in chronic wound infections

Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences

Applications accepted all year round Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Chronic wound infections are a significant and fast-growing global healthcare problem compounded by the widespread occurrence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. In the UK alone, annual healthcare costs associated with chronic wounds including diabetic wounds, pressure ulcers, and non-healing surgical wounds were estimated to be 5.3 billion pounds. Due to the polymicrobial nature and prevalence of biofilms in non-healing wounds, many existing therapies including surgical debridement, antibiotics therapy, and use of wound dressings are ineffective. This project aims to improve the treatment of chronic wound infections by developing novel gold nanoparticle-antimicrobial peptide conjugates (AuNP-AMPs) for the broad-spectrum, synergistic photothermal-antimicrobial chemotherapy of planktonic bacteria and biofilms. Key goals of this project include: (1) synthesis and characterisation of AuNP-AMPs with strong near infrared absorbance using a novel peptide-templated approach, (2) evaluation of the potential of combining broad-spectrum antimicrobial activities of conjugated AMPs with targeted photothermal ablation for the enhanced eradication of drug-resistant pathogens/biofilms, (3) demonstration of enhanced protease stability in conjugated AMPs and investigation of antimicrobial mechanisms of action, and (4) evaluation of in vitro biocompatibility.

This project will suit a self-motivated student with a Pharmacy, Chemistry, Physics, Engineering, Biomedical or other relevant background. The student will gain hands-on experience in a wide range of interdisciplinary research skills such as nanoparticle synthesis, materials characterisation (e.g. TEM/SEM, XPS, and DLS) as well as mammalian and bacterial culture to address a major global health challenge in antimicrobial resistance. The student will benefit from working in a vibrant and multidisciplinary environment in the Bragg Centre for Materials Research as well as with staff and students from the Schools of Physics and Medicine at the University of Leeds.

Funding Notes

Please refer to the University of Leeds website for information on funding opportunities

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