About the Project
Medieval manuscripts contain numerous remedies for microbial infections, and these often involve complex preparations of several ingredients. Medieval infection remedies use ingredients known to possess some antimicrobial or immunomodulatory effects. Further, these recipes prescribe complex preparations of multiple ingredients, with contingencies of treatments for the same symptoms, which is consistent with extensive medical knowledge gained from a tradition of observation and experimentation. Our preliminary data demonstrate the great potential to derive antimicrobials from natural products found within the multi-component remedies of historical sources [see References below].
This PhD project will work within an interdisciplinary framework using skills from textual and data analysis (dry component) in combination with laboratory application. The major objectives include identifying and delivering antimicrobial products from natural sources. This is a novel route to developing new antimicrobial therapeutics in a time of increasing antimicrobial resistance.
Techniques that will be undertaken during the project:
- Data Science: Analysing complex datasets; understanding and refining methodologies for processing historical textual datasets
- Textual Component: Applying historical texts to current issues; interpretation and translation skills; methodologies in the history of medicine
- Microbiology: Bacterial culture; biofilm studies; high-throughput susceptibility testing; eukaryotic tissue culture for toxicity/wound-healing assays; chemical characterisation of natural products
Connelly E. A Case Study of Plantago in the Treatment of Infected Wounds in the Middle English Translation of Bernard of Gordon’s Lilium medicinae. In: New Approaches to Disease, Disability, and Medicine in Medieval Europe, Studies in Early Medicine series, eds, Connelly E, Künzel S. (Oxford: Archaeopress, 2018).
Harrison F, Roberts AE, Gabrilska R, Rumbaugh KP, Lee C, Diggle SP. A 1,000-Year-Old antimicrobial remedy with antistaphylococcal activity. MBio 6, e01129 (2015).
Harrison F and Connelly E, ‘Could Medieval Medicine Help the Fight Against Antimicrobial Resistance?’ in Chris Jones; Conor Kostick; and Klaus Oschema (eds), Making the Medieval Relevant (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2019)
Watkins F, Pendry B, Sanchez-Medina A, Corcoran O. Antimicrobial assays of three native British plants used in Anglo-Saxon medicine for wound healing formulations in 10th century England. J Ethnopharmacol 144, 408-415 (2012).
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