Antibiotic-resistant microbes have become a serious health problem world-wide. Development of new antibiotics has been focused on killing pathogens. However, these antibiotics also kill other components of microbiome resulting in immune dysregulation. It is crucial to develop new strategies which can remove pathogens without damaging the homeostasis of the microbiome.
Nanotechnology is one of the key enabling technologies identified in the European Union (EU) 2020 Strategy that may be promising in dealing with antibiotic-resistant microbe. My recent study showed that microbes' binding to nanomaterials (NMs) was dependent on NMs' characteristics. This finding inspired me to consider whether I can find functionalized NMs to recognize and remove specific pathogens from 100 trillion microbes in gut and pose no harm to the other microbes. The idea is novel and does not follow the conventional use of NMs killing microbes directly, but I believe this is possible because microbes have very different cell surfaces. This would enable the design of NMs that bind certain microbes but not others.
I hypothesize that specific surface molecules of pathogens can be acted as the multiple targeted ligands for functionalized NMs to outcompete the binding sites of pathogens on the epithelium. To verify the hypothesis, I plan to use multiple ligand coated NMs, a new concept of personalized protein corona, and in vitro and in vivo gut microbiome models to study the mechanisms of functionalized nanomaterials binding to microbes in gut. My research experiences on nano-bio interactions combined with my host and collaborators’ expertise in nano-therapy (France), nano-protein corona (Germany) and nano-characterization (Denmark) will allow me to successfully execute this challenging program. The proposed study will result in a new strategy for using NMs to fight multi-resistant microbes without antibiotics.
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