Research Cafe: Tackling antimicrobial resistance (AMR) via nanotheranostic interventions

The rapid rise of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) has emerged as a serious global threat to human health. AMR results when an improper antibiotic treatment leads to wiping out of non-resistant bacteria, leaving the resistant cells to thrive. One of the ways through which AMR can be tackled is by rational design of rapid diagnostic tools that allow early detection of the underlying medical condition. The simplicity, affordability and portability of these tools can further aid in their easier adoption into the mainstream clinical decision-making, which presently rests heavily on empirical therapy. My group's research tries to address some of these key issues by developing nanotheranostic platforms for improving infectious disease management. To this end, my lab uses a combination of interdisciplinary approaches including materials chemistry, synthetic biology and nanoengineering to design novel point-of-care bioassays, targeted drug delivery systems and smart materials with advanced functionalities. Our two main systems of focus until now have been freely circulating bacterial infections in blood (also known as bacteremia) and intracellularized bacterial infections in cancer cells. In this talk, I will describe a diagnostic platform called Setiflo TM that has been developed in my group for rapid bedside diagnosis of septicemia. It can identify the Gram status of bacteremia < 10 min from a drop of human plasma. I will also illustrate some preliminary work ongoing in my group on using impedance spectroscopy as a diagnostic technique. Finally, I will present our results on facile antibiotic delivery in bacterial-infested cancer systems.