Description of field of research

The rise in multidrug-resistant (MDR) bacteria is considered a global healthcare issue that requires new and effective solutions urgently. A promising approach to combat this global challenge entails the use of synthetic mimics that imitate naturally-occurring antimicrobial peptides (AMPs), wherein the bacteria can be killed effectively with limited resistance development. The potency exerted by AMPs and mimics thereof is mainly due to the presence of cationic (amino) and hydrophobic groups in their chemical structures which enables them to act on the bacteria cell membrane, thereby making it harder for the bacteria to resist.

Despite their effectiveness in combating bacteria, this class of compounds are often cytotoxic to healthy mammalian cells, thereby limiting their application in clinical settings. To overcome this toxicity issue, AMPs and mimics thereof could be used in combination with traditional antibiotics. Combinations/pairings that demonstrate synergistic interactions will result in lower dosage required and consequently lower toxicity.

This project will enable the candidate to explore and seek such combinations and to develop some fundamental understanding behind their mechanism action. 

School

Chemical Engineering

Research Area

Antimicrobial Resistance, Polymer Chemistry, Infectious Diseases, Antibiotics

The candidate will have the opportunity to learn some organic and polymer chemistry synthesis, purification, and characterization techniques.

In addition, the candidate will also learn and perform microbiology and cell biology experiments to ascertain the antimicrobial activities and biocompatibility of the combinations.

In summary, the candidate will be working in a wet chemistry and biology labs.

The candidate will learn and develop multidisciplinary knowledge and skills in chemical synthesis, microbiology and cell biology. Furthermore, the candidate will contribute to the generation of key data that may lead to publications and potential translation into real world applications.