Scientists awarded funding to tackle antimicrobial resistance

Dr Stefano Pagliara, Professor Krasi Tsaneva-Atanasova and Dr Ula Łapińska

Three academics from the University of Exeter’s Living Systems Institute have received half a million pounds funding to tackle antimicrobial resistance.

Dr Stefano Pagliara, Professor Krasi Tsaneva-Atanasova and Dr Ula Łapińska will use the funding to determine how two genetically identical cells can accumulate substantially different amount of drugs.

The funding of just over £500,000 was awarded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) under its 2020 Responsive Mode scheme.

The team’s project, called HETEROTRANSPORT, will use cutting-edge technologies including microfluidics, microscopy and omics to determine the mechanisms that permit drugs to enter and kill bacteria.

By controlling such mechanisms the team will be able to increase the efficacy of antibiotic treatment.

Dr Stefano Pagliara said “I am glad to have received this funding from the BBSRC, which will allow us to answer the fundamental question: how can individual bacteria survive antibiotic treatment? Answering this question is crucial and timely considering the current antimicrobial resistance crisis. In order to fight pathogenic microbes we urgently need to make drugs accumulate at sufficient levels in all individual bacteria within a population”.

Professor Krasi Tsaneva-Atanasova said: “This project provides an unprecedented opportunity to quantitatively model and analyse cellular heterogeneity while contributing to tackling a major global health challenge.”

Dr Ula Łapińska added: “I am very excited to work on this project for the next three years, there is a lot we can learn by looking at individual bacteria responding to drug treatment.”

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