Email Charity number:1139383 President: Sir Paul Nurse

A novel systems to use bacteriophages as tools to detect bacteria

Mr Sahan Liyanagedera
Warwick University School of Engineering

Due to the sharp rise in antimicrobial resistance against broad spectrum antibiotics, new strategies for the diagnosis and treatment of bacterial infections are required. In order to provide effective and targeted treatment to bacterial infections, the disease causing bacteria must be rapidly identified. Current methods for bacterial detection rely on complex, time consuming laboratory based techniques.

This situation becomes worse in low resource/income areas lacking sophisticated centralised laboratory infrastructure, which happen to also be the areas with the highest prevalence of bacterial infections. To help people from developing countries and those who lack access to advanced biomedical testing facilities, new strategies to rapidly detect bacteria in patient and environmental samples are needed. These new methods should be cheap, simple to use, portable and be able to specifically detect multiple bacterial species within the same device. To achieve this, there has been a resurgence in the use of bacteriophage (phage) to detect bacteria. Phage are viruses that infect bacteria. They have a unique structure comprising of a head, neck, and tail region. It is the phage’s tails that have receptors that attach on to bacteria during phage infection. This highly specific interaction can be utilised for the detection of bacteria. In this work, PhD student Mr Sahan Liyanagedera is developing methods to package signal molecules into the phage heads and then immobilise them on to user friendly, cheap and rapid diagnostic devices. 

Supporting carefully selected research projects in Warwickshire universities, hospitals and Wellesbourne Crop Centre