Investigating the effects of microbes on human health
Only over the last decade have we begun to understand the critical importance of microbes that are present within our localised environment. These communities of microbes, often referred to as microbiomes, can be advantageous or detrimental to human health.
There's a pressing need to discover or refine tools to enhance beneficial microbes within our local environments – and the removal of harmful microbes from these environments is also of critical importance.
Our experience and ongoing projects includes, but is not limited to:
- Discovery of novel antibacterial agents and high-throughput methods for rapid identification of such drugs (Draheim)
- Regulation of antibiotic entry into bacterial cells (Draheim)
- Discovery of novel antifungal agents (Lewis)
- Evaluation of antibacterial properties of silver nanospecies for tissue engineering applications (Roldo/Draheim)
- In vitro visualisation of biofilms and effects of oral care products (Roldo)
- The effects of antibacterial chemotherapy on intestinal microbiomal resistance (Fouch)
- The antibacterial and anti-adhesive properties of honey (Fouch)
- Investigate the role of bacteria/gut microbiota in human diseases (bacterial infection, inflammatory disease, neurodegenerative disease and cancer) (Wan)
- Isolation and exploring immunomodulatory and therapeutic potential of bacterial metabolites (Wan)
- Microbial methods of probing protein-protein interactions (Baldock)
- Discovery and characterisation of novel antimicrobial compounds (Baldock)
One of the major challenges humanity faces right now is the increasing appearance of disease-causing microbes that we were able to control and which are now resistant to all available treatments. The end of the “golden era” of antibiotics means there is a major imminent threat to humanity from antibiotic resistance – and if we do not find effective new approaches to combat this threat, people will be again dying from infections that are currently treated with a course of antibiotics.
Additionally, our experience includes development of novel agents and formulations against bacteria, fungi and parasites. In addition, we also work with microbiomes that are beneficial to humans. This currently focuses on the microbial communities found within the human gut and those found coating the surface of human teeth.
Our research teams also have significant experience with microbes that directly affect human health or that affect the local environmental infrastructure that humans interact with.
Our research in microbiology covers the following topics
Drug design and discovery (new drugs)
Molecular signalling (understanding mechanisms of communication inside and between cells)
Synthetic microbiology (engineering bacteria for novel function)
Biomaterials and formulation (new man-made materials or reformulation of such materials)
Molecular modelling (aiding identification of new drugs and their properties even before these are made)
Ion channel biophysics (understanding drug targets)
Our research makes use of the following methods:
- Microbial growth (aerobic / anaerobic growth large volume and/or parallelised growth)
- Biochemical / Immunological methods (DNA/RNA/protein extraction, SDS-PAGE, protein purification, ELISA)
- Yeast 2-hybrid analysis
- Atomistic molecular dynamics
- Biophysical methods (fluorescence-based high-throughput screening)
- Synthetic microbiology (bacterial engineering and organ replication)
- Electrophysiology (high-throughput screening against fungal voltage-gated channels)
- Advanced imaging methods via the Zeiss Global Imaging Centre
- High-throughout sequencing (RNAseq, 16S rRNA)
- Microbial flow cyotmetry
- Host-pathogen interactions
We also have access to advanced imaging of biomaterials via the Zeiss Global Imaging Centre, and can conduct antibacterial testing of commercial materials. We also hold intellectual property (IP) for high-throughput screening for antimicrobial activity.
Funders and collaborations
We regularly collaborate on research with industry and academic partners around the world. We've worked on projects with Oxford Drug Design, UK; Huazhong Agricultural University, China; Wuhan HVSEN Biotechnology Co Ltd, China; GlaxoSmithKline Plc, UK; Naresuan University, Thailand; Collaboration with University of Southampton, UK; University hospitals, Lund University, Sweden; University of Eastern Finland, Finland and University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong.
We've received research funding from major funders such as the UK's government-funded innovation agency Innovate UK, the Chinese government's Ministry of Science and Technology, Daphne Jackson Trust, The Royal Society, ARUK South Coast and the Academy of Finland.
Recent publication highlights
Li, H., Li, T., Zhang, L., Hu, Q., Liao, X., Jiang, Q., Qiu, X., Li, L., Draheim, R. R., Huang, Q., and Zhou, R. (2022) "Antimicrobial compounds from an FDA‐approved drug library with activity against Streptococcus suis", Journal of Applied Microbiology
Rahayu, D. P., De Mori, A., Yusuf, R., Draheim, R., Lalatsa, A., and Roldo, M. (2022) "Enhancing the antibacterial effect of Chitosan to combat orthopaedic implant-associated infections", Carbohydrate Polymers
Rahayu, D. P., De Mori, A., Draheim, R., Lalatsa, K., and Roldo, M. (2022) "Harnessing the properties of fluoridated chitosan polymers against the formation of oral biofilms", Pharmaceutics
Evaluation of antibacterial and cytotoxicity properties of silver nanowires and their composites with carbon nanotubes for biomedical applications
De Mori, A., Jones, R. S., Cretella, M., Cerri, G., Draheim, R., Barbu, E., Tozzi, G., and Roldo, M. (2020) "Evaluation of antibacterial and cytotoxicity properties of silver nanowires and their composites with carbon nanotubes for biomedical applications", International Journal of Molecular Sciences
Butler, D. S. C., Ambite, I., Wan, M., Tran, T. H., Wullt, B., and Svanborg, C. (2022) "Immunomodulation therapy offers new molecular strategies to treat UTI", Nature Reviews Urology
A bacterial protease depletes c-MYC and increases survival in mouse models of bladder and colon cancer
Butler, D. S. C., Cafaro, C., Putze, J., Wan, M. L. Y., Tran, T. H., Ambite, I., Ahmadi, S., Kjellström, S., Welinder, C., Chao, S. M., Dobrindt, U., and Svanborg, C. (2021) "A bacterial protease depletes c-MYC and increases survival in mouse models of bladder and colon cancer", Nature Biotechnology
Wan, M. L. Y., Co, V. A., and El-Nezami, H. (2020) "Dietary polyphenol impact on gut health and microbiota", Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition
Jongjitwimol, J., and Baldock, R. A. (2023) "Hydroquinine: a potential new avenue in drug discovery for drug-resistant bacteria?", Expert Opinion on Drug Discovery
High-throughput Transcriptomic Profiling Reveals the Inhibitory Effect of Hydroquinine on Virulence Factors in Pseudomonas aeruginosa
Rattanachak, N., Weawsiangsang, S., Daowtak, K., Thongsri, Y., Ross, S., Ross, G., Nilsri, N., Baldock, R. A., Pongcharoen, S., Jongjitvimol, T., and Jongjitwimol, J. (2022) "High-throughput transcriptomic profiling reveals the inhibitory effect of hydroquinine on virulence factors in Pseudomonas aeruginosa", Antibiotics
Hydroquinine Possesses Antibacterial Activity, and at Half the MIC, Induces the Overexpression of RND-Type Efflux Pumps Using Multiplex Digital PCR in Pseudomonas aeruginosa
Rattanachak, N., Weawsiangsang, S., Jongjitvimol, T., Baldock, R. A., and Jongjitwimol, J. (2022) "Hydroquinine possesses antibacterial activity, and at half the MIC, induces the overexpression of RND-type efflux pumps using multiplex digital PCR in pseudomonas aeruginosa", Tropical Medicine and Infectious Disease
We're looking at the architecture and function of the nervous system – and how it relates to development, normal health, and neurological disorders.
Molecular mechanisms of diseases
We're exploring the molecules and molecular processes that cause diseases, and working to develop better treatments.
Nanomaterials for Drug and Gene Delivery
We're helping to create targeted, safe and effective medicines to positively impact patients' lives.
We're working to improve the practices, selection, use and disposal of pharmaceuticals to protect the environment, and we're promoting the vital role pharmacists can play in delivering better care to patients.
Interested in a PhD in Pharmacy, Pharmacology and Biomedical Sciences?
Browse our postgraduate research degrees – including PhDs and MPhils – at our Pharmacy, Pharmacology and Biomedical Sciences postgraduate research degrees page.