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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/V003127/1
Title: Overseas Travel Grant - Research visit to Louvain Drug Research Institute at the Universite catholique de Louvain
Principal Investigator: Flynn, Dr PBP
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Sch of Pharmacy
Organisation: Queen's University of Belfast
Scheme: Overseas Travel Grants (OTGS)
Starts: 31 July 2021 Ends: 30 October 2021 Value (£): 20,223
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Microbiology Plasmas - Technological
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
05 May 2020 Healthcare Technologies Investigator Led Panel May 2020 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Chronic wounds impose a significant and often underestimated burden to the individual, the healthcare system and society as a whole. It has been estimated that the NHS spends £5 billion on treating chronic wounds with approximately 2.2 million people living with chronic wounds in the UK. These chronic wounds are extremely susceptible to infection. With sufferers of non-healing wounds regularly receiving antibiotic treatment for recurring infected wounds. Bacteria responsible for these infections such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Pseudomonas aeruginosa have the capacity to evade the immune system and antibiotic treatment by hiding within cells resulting in persistent and recurrent infections transforming these cells into reservoirs of infection. Bacteria that evade the immune system by persisting in the intracellular environment are difficult to treat with traditional antibiotic therapies due to the varied susceptibility to antibiotics within the intracellular environment as well as the challenge of achieving effective concentrations of antibiotics within the cellular environment. New treatment strategies are required to increase the effectiveness of antibiotics for intracellular infection treatments, that currently require lengthy and repeated antibiotic treatments. These repeated treatments contribute to antimicrobial resistance through ineffective clearance of the pathogen from the infected individual and modification of their microbiome increasing the population of resistant bacteria within their body. Cold plasma technology is an innovative and new approach for the disinfection of infected surfaces and chronic infected wounds. Cold plasma refers to a partially ionised gas generated from the input of electrical energy into a gas such as helium, creating a plasma suitable for treating heat sensitive surfaces like our skin. There is already a range of devices available for treatment of infected wounds. Currently the antibacterial activity of this technology is well characterised however there is no published data on its effects on intracellular infected cells alongside antibiotic treatments.

The aim of this project is to investigate the efficacy of cold plasma treatment of infected cells with subsequent cold plasma deposition of a hydrogel dressing impregnated with antibiotic nanoparticles, to improve the potency and effectiveness of antibiotics for treatment of intracellular infections and chronic wounds. This will result in a reduction of the required antibiotic treatments for the effective clearance of persistent tissue infections as well as localised treatment of the infection. In order to achieve this aim a suitable intracellular infection model must be developed. At the Louvain Drug Research Institute, Universite' Catholique de Louvain, they have developed antibiotic pharmacodynamic models for intracellular infections. This proposed research visit to this Institution will result in an understanding and expertise in the use of this model in order to fulfill the aims of my research program as well as developing international collaboration with a world-leading Institution in antibiotics and their pharmacodynamics in infected cells.
Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Organisation Website: http://www.qub.ac.uk