New Inspiration Grant awarded on Novel microfluidic chemotaxis screening platform for high-throughput bacterial viability quantification

24 May 2018

We are pleased to announce that Anand N. P. Radhakrishnan, Asterios Gavriilidis, Elaine Allan and David Wareham have been awarded a Centre for Nature Inspired Engineering Inspiration Grant on Novel microfluidic chemotaxis screening platform for high-throughput bacterial viability quantification.  

The project is in collaboration with the Centre for Immunobiology, Blizard Institute, Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry.  

It is estimated that by 2050, over 10 million people globally will die each year as a direct result of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). At present, this figure is around 700,000.  

This global health crisis has arisen from the use and often misuse of antibacterial drugs and poses a serious threat to all aspects of modern healthcare, especially haemato-oncology, transplantation surgery and all areas of critical care medicine. Transmission of resistant bacteria between patients is frequent in hospitals, leading to an increase in the number of healthcare associated infections (HAI). Roughly 300,000 patients acquire HAI in hospitals in England each year. The discovery of new antibacterial agents - as well as the development of strategies to prevent transmission of HAI - is therefore imperative. In this regard, we are developing novel surfaces like light activated antimicrobial agents and antimicrobial paints for use in healthcare environments.  

Traditionally bactericidal activity, to test these novel surfaces, is determined by viable counting which is laborious, and costly (diluting and plating bacteria in a single experiment requires 3-4 hours and overnight incubation is required to obtain countable colonies; much disposable plasticware is used which has an economic and environmental cost). Here we propose a novel, faster and cheaper method to determine bacterial viability that would ultimately expedite the discovery and evaluation of antimicrobial agents (re-usable devices in plastic can be fabricated relatively inexpensively, which offer in situ detection). The method will utilise the natural phenomenon of bacterial chemotaxis (chemotaxis is the ability of bacteria to move towards or away from environmental signals by flagella-mediated motility). Using this principle, viable bacterial cells will move along a chemotactic gradient, separating themselves from dead cells, and can be detected within an hour.

People

Anand N. P. Radhakrishnan, UCL Chemical Engineering

Asterios Gavriilidis, UCL Chemical Engineering

Elaine Allan, UCL Eastman Dental Institute

David Wareham, Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry

New Inspiration Grant awarded on Novel microfluidic chemotaxis screening platform for high-throughput bacterial viability quantification