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Peptide surfactants for bacterial biofilms

Department of Physics and Astronomy

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Dr T Waigh Applications accepted all year round Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

This Manchester/Melbourne scheme involves a paired collaboration of academics in both Manchester Physics and Microbiology with their equivalents at the University of Melbourne Chemistry and Microbiology. Bacterial biofilms are a huge issue in medicine, where they are an important virulence factor in lethal infections e.g. they cause morbidity during regenerative medicine treatments and wound healing. De novo peptides kill bacteria by disrupting their membranes, but find it hard to permeate into biofilm. Magnetic nanobots provide a new technique to target biofilms at the nanoscale. Using magnetic tweezers, magnetic nanobots can be steered around biofilm infections in three dimensions. The magnetic forces can be used to disrupt the biofilms mechanically, but also high frequency magnetic fields (through Curie heating) can be used to destroy the bacteria. The methodology is scalable (it could be used to disrupt biofilm blockage in pipelines during biofouling), can be made relatively cheap and using antibodies it can be made extremely specific (a novel targeted antibiotic). Furthermore, three dimensional printing of ceramic/magnetic composites will be investigated to optimise the performance of the magnetic nanobots e.g. the forces applied and their abrasive properties. Solid state NMR will also be used to optimise the interaction of the peptides with the bacterial membranes.

The PhD project needs someone with a physics or bioengineering undergraduate degree to explore the performance of magnetic nanobot peptide delivery in vivo within bacterial biofilms that are relevant to human health. The student will be trained to have the necessary microbiological and biophysical skills.

Entry requirements
A minimum of a 2i class UK Masters honours degree or international equivalent is required or a first degree with an additional Masters degree or international equivalent.

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