Fighting Antibiotic Resistance with Biomimetic Nanostructures
Elena Ivanova (RMIT University, Australia )
Location: Sala de Graus, ETSEQ
Start time: May 31, 2019, 12 p.m.
The threat of a global rise of untreatable infections caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria calls for the design and fabrication of a new generation of biomaterials. Following the discovery of the efficient, bacteria-killing nature of insect wing surfaces, the properties of these biological nanostructures have recently become the subject of intense investigation, promising to play a large role in combatting the emerging, worldwide epidemic of “super-bugs.”
The formation of bacterial biofilms has been prevented for many years through adaptating the physical and chemical properties of a variety of medical tools, particularly the surfaces of instruments and implants. This control on the micro-nano scale has led to greater regulation of bacterial attachment and biofilm formation. These “anti-befouling” surfaces generally rely on a chemical coating that slowly releases a “biocidal” agent, killing the bacteria that come into contact. However, these biofilm-forming bacteria can adapt, and may develop resistance over prolonged periods of exposure, leading to an unwelcome increase in antibiotic resistance in pathogenic strains of bacteria.
Recent studies of insect wings have shown that they are covered with nano-pillared arrays lethal to most species of pathogenic bacteria. Rather than relying on a combination of physical and chemical properties to combat biofilm formation, the mechanism of the antibacterial activity of nanostructured surfaces has been described in terms of purely physical, “mechano-bactericidal” effects. So far several synthetic bactericidal surfaces, e.g., “black silicon,” was synthesised as an analogue of an insect wing’s protective surface and was reported to induce a biocidal effect, physically “bursting” the small, Gram-negative bacteria while leaving the host’s large eukaryotic cells intact; however, the precise role of this and other nano-architectures in fighting pathogenic bacteria remains a complex mystery to be solved.
About Elena Ivanova
Institution: RMIT University, Australia
Professor Elena Ivanova is Distinguished Professor at RMIT’s School of Science. She received PhD from the Institute of Microbiology and Virology, Ukraine; ScD from the Pacific Institute of Bio-organic Chemistry, Russian Federation; JD from the University of Melbourne; GradDip from the Law Institute, Victoria; she joined Swinburne University of Technology in 2001 and moved to RMIT University in 2018. Professor Ivanova worked as a Postdoctoral Fellow at the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization, Japan; Visiting Researcher at the Center of Marine Biotechnology, University of Maryland; Visiting Professor at Hokkaido University, Japan; Cambridge University, UK and Institut Charles, Sadron, CNRS, France; she joined Swinburne University of Technology in 2001 and moved to RMIT University in 2018. Professor Ivanova is recipient of AIST and JSPS Fellowships, Japan; UNESCO Biotechnology Fellowship; Research Excellence Award of the Governor of Primorye; Prominent Young Doctor of Science Award of Russian Federation, Morrison Rogosa Award from American Society for Microbiology, U.S.A, Australian Museum Eureka 2017 for Scientific Research, etc.
She published two and edited 3 books, 26 book chapters, 4 patents, in excess of 300 research papers with 10700 citations, her h-factor is 51. The research interests are also focusing on design, fabrication and operation of planar micro-devices; immobilization of bio-molecules and micro-organisms in micro/nano/environments, bacterial taxonomy, microbial interactions with macro/micro/nano-structured surfaces, biomaterials, and mechano-bactericidal biomimetic nanostructured surfaces.
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