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Natural products as prophylaxis and treatment for gonococcal eye infections

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Self-Funded PhD Students Only
    Self-Funded PhD Students Only

Project Description

Neisseria gonorrhoeae bacteria can infect the eyes of infants born to mothers infected with gonorrhoea, up to 80% of whom have no symptoms of their disease. The bacteria cause ulceration of the cornea, perforation, and inflammation, which can lead to significant visual loss or blindness, even with correct treatment.
Over the years, N. gonorrhoeae has developed resistance to the antibiotics used against it, such that now no single antibiotic is recommended. Instead, third generation cephalosporins, the former recommend antimicrobial of choice, are used in combination with azithromycin, due to resistances reported worldwide.
In developing countries, access to effective antibiotics for prophylaxis to prevent the establishment of N. gonorrhoeae eye infections is rare, as can be the availability of antibiotics for treatment. This jeopardises the eye health of infants and adults in these regions, particularly in areas of Africa and Southeast Asia where rates of multi-drug resistant gonorrhoea are high. Without an effective, inexpensive, and accessible treatment, infants and adults face a future similar to the pre-antibiotic past, where blindness from gonococcal infections was prevalent.
The aims of this PhD project will be to explore the antimicrobial activity of natural products, including those already identified in our laboratory, those referred to in folk remedies that may be effective, and those from historic medical texts, in collaboration with the University of Warwick. Antimicrobial testing in the laboratory will be combined with ocular irritation assays to demonstrate that the natural products are not only effective at killing the N. gonorrhoeae bacteria, but are also safe to use on the eye. The goal will be to develop options for prophylaxis and treatment that will be readily available at a low cost in various developing countries.

Funding Notes

No funding is available - only self-funded applications can be considered

References

Prevention of ophthalmia neonatorum from Neisseria gonorrhoeae using a fatty acid-based formulation. C Churchward, RG Alany, RS Kirk, AJ Walker, LAS Snyder. In press mBio.

Fatty acids microemulsion for the treatment of neonatal conjunctivitis: quantification, characterisation, and evaluation of antimicrobial activity. U Butt, A El Shaer, LAS Snyder, A Chaidemenou & RG Alany. Drug Delivery and Translational Research 6: 722–734 (2016).

Phase variable DNA repeats in Neisseria gonorrhoeae influence transcription, translation, and protein sequence variation. MA Zelewska, M Pulijala, R Spencer-Smith, HA Mahmood, B Norman, CP Churchward, A Calder, and LAS Snyder. Microbial Genomics 2 (2016).

Critical appraisal of alternative irritation models: three decades of testing ophthalmic pharmaceuticals. Abdelkader H, Pierscionek B, Carew M, Wu Z, Alany RG. Br Med Bull. 2015 Mar;113(1):59-71.

Harrison, Freya, Roberts, Aled E. L., Gabrilska, Rebecca, Rumbaugh, Kendra P., Lee, Christina, Diggle, Stephen P.. 2015. A 1,000-year-old antimicrobial remedy with antistaphylococcal activity. mBio, 6 (4), pp. e01129-15.

How good is research at Kingston University in Allied Health Professions, Dentistry, Nursing and Pharmacy?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 17.22

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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