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Junior Fellowship - 2022

Using zinc ionophores to break antibiotic resistance in Streptococcus pneumoniae otitis media.
SEM image: McDevitt Laboratory. Figure by Stephanie Neville, created using

Breaking antibiotic resistance in otopathogens
Doctor Stephanie Neville

Project Description

This Project aims to address the critical issue of antibiotic resistance in bacteria that cause middle ear infections (otitis media [OM]). Globally, there are more than 700 million cases of acute OM every year, predominately in children under 5 years old. While most of these infections are cleared by antibiotics before they cause lasting damage, many of the bacteria that infect the middle ear are now resistant to multiple antibiotics, making them very difficult to treat. Rather than attempting to make new antibiotics, this Project proposes to re-energise our existing antibiotics using ionophores. Ionophores are compounds that move metal ions, such as zinc and copper, into bacterial cells where they work in combination with antibiotics to kill the bacteria. Ionophores are safe for human use and our research has shown that they are able to re-sensitise even highly resistant bacteria to current antibiotics. This Project will determine dosing regimens that are able to effectively treat antibiotic resistant OM, and inform improved clinical practice for better patient care.

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