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Smart materials treating eye infections

Eye infections are a common cause of blindness. Treatment can be difficult where there are no laboratories to identify the pathogens, and due to growing antibiotic resistance.

At the joint UK-India Centre for Advanced Technology Minimising Anti-Microbial Resistance, a Newton-Bhabha funded project is developing novel systems that can be built into diagnostic contact lenses for the detection of infection in the eye, and a particulate delivery system that can administer the antibiotics needed by patients.

The core of the project is developing polymers that respond to bacteria by binding and then losing water, leading to significant changes in the properties of the polymers, which further enhances binding. The polymer bound bacteria will then be detected by a simple colorimetric test. The team is also exploring strategies to tackle antibiotic resistance, such as interfering with bacterial signaling molecules which slows multiplication and disrupts colonisation.

The work of the centre in developing new smart material solutions that prevent the excessive and inappropriate use of antibiotics in one area of healthcare, will also find applications in the treatment of other infective diseases.


"Our work brings together aspects of unique polymer science in both synthesis and behaviour to tackle both detection of bacteria and targeted delivery of antibiotics. The work has progressed very well and our key advances have been our targeting of the quorum sensing processes in bacteria and the design of polymers and electrophoretic processes to penetrate infected cornea. The project could only succeed by close working in a multi-disciplinary team including polymer science, clinical ophthalmology, microbiology and pharmacology." 

Dr Prashant Garg

  UK-India Centre for Advanced Technology Minimising Anti-Microbial Resistance
  Lead PIs: Professor Stephen Rimmer at University of Bradford
  Lead PIs: Dr Prashant Garg, LV Prasad Institute and Vamsi Venuganti, Birla Institute of                               Technology in Hyderabad,India
  Project partners: Medical Research Council
                                Department of Biotechnology, India