Bacteria within a biofilm are up to 1,000-fold more resistant to antibiotics and are inherently insensitive to the host immune response. This is particularly relevant for patients affected by Cystic Fibrosis (CF), also called mucoviscidosis. Indeed, once Pseudomonas aeruginosa colonizes the lungs, it can acquire a mucoid phenotype, which renders infections insensitive to antibiotics.
Our preliminary data show that antibiotherapy directly impacts the properties of the extracellular matrix surrounding bacteria in a biofilm. We hypothesize that these changes increase the protection of bacteria in the biofilm, rendering them even less permissive to antibiotherapy.
The main aims of the 3.5 years Ph.D. position are
- to establish a relevant in vitro model of CF-biofilm
- to study the interactions between exopolysaccharides (EPS), antibiotics and P. aeruginosa, and
- to test adjuvants able to restore the efficacy of the antibiotics using high-throughput screening.
Very few studies report on the physicochemical characteristics of EPS and how the micro-environment can be modulated by external compounds, such as antibiotics or other adjuvants. Finding adjuvants that prevent EPS from neutralizing antibiotics administered to biofilms could revolutionize how we tackle antimicrobial resistance.
- Isolate, purify, and characterize important exopolysaccharides of Cystic Fibrosis biofilms.
- Develop bioinks for 3D printing, including P. aeruginosa.
- Characterize the structure and changes to native and printed P. aeruginosa biofilms due to environmental factors, including antibiotherapies.
- Elucidate the interplay between EPS remodeling and bacteria behavior.
Applicants should have experience in microbiology and biotechnology, i.e., capable of growing and characterizing bacteria and testing antibiotic efficacy. Experience with microscopy, bioreactors, and 3D bioprinting is preferred but not mandatory.