The increase in resistance of bacteria to antibiotics is one of the biggest issues facing the world and many commentators have written on the catastrophic effects of the descent into a post-antibiotic world. New therapies are clearly required to combat infectious diseases but also new diagnostic techniques are required to provide better understanding of infected states. This project addresses the latter by providing polymer materials that bind selectively to bacteria and then respond to their presence; by changing conformation.1-3 The change in conformation can then be assessed using dyes that are sensitive to their environment.
We will work in collaboration with microbiologists at the University of Sheffield, who will test the polymers in established microbiological assays. The key polymers are highly branched poly(N-isopropyl acrylamide)s with bacteria binding ligands at the chain ends. The ligand in this case is a peptide, VPHNPGLISLQG, which has been identified by phage display techniques to selectively bind to Staphylococcus aureus.
The project will mainly involve the synthesis of these polymers and their characterisation in terms of molecular structure and physical properties with their microbiological properties being assessed at University of Sheffield. We will also examine the toxicity of the polymers in cell culture assays at Bradford.