Healthcare-associated infections are widely acknowledged globally as the most frequent adverse events in hospitals. Many such infections involve implanted medical devices such as catheters. Bacteria attach to these and form biofilms that are much more tolerant to antibiotics and host defences than individual bacterial cells. Most strategies for reducing device-associated infections have focused on coating devices with antimicrobials e.g. silver or antibiotics. Greater success could be achieved by using materials exhibiting intrinsic resistance to bacterial attachment and so avoid problems associated with antimicrobial impregnation including leaching and resistance. To address this ‘materials gap’ we have developed a high throughput combinatorial microarray methodology that has enabled us to screen thousands of homo- and co-polymers for novel biofilm resistant materials. The ‘hits’ obtained represent a class of resistant materials that could not have been predicted from our current understanding of bacteria-surface interactions. Consequently we are exploring structure-function relationships from the both material surface and bacterial sensing perspectives.
Paul Williams is Professor of Molecular Microbiology in the School of Life Sciences, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences at the University of Nottingham U.K. In 1996 he was appointed to the Directorship of the Institute of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation until 2008 when he became Head of the School of Molecular Medical Sciences, University of Nottingham. His research interests focus primarily on the regulation of gene expression in bacteria through cell-cell communication (quorum sensing) and the development of novel antibacterial agents and bacterial attachment resistant polymers. He is currently a member of the MRC Infection and Immunity board, a member of the EU Joint Programming Initiative in Antimicrobial Resistance and a Wellcome Trust Senior Investigator, He is Co-Director of the new Wellcome Trust Ph.D. Training Programme in Antimicrobials and Antimicrobial Resistance jointly shared between the University of Nottingham and University of Birmingham.
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