Research interests

Biomaterial-associated infections and novel antimicrobial strategies Biomaterial-associated infections. Infections of biomedical devices, or “biomaterials” (catheters, prosthetic heart valves, implants), are a major and increasing problem in modern medicine, especially in view of the increase in antibiotic resistance. We have discovered that bacteria do not only colonize the medical device by biofilm-formation, but also persist in surrounding tissue, due to disturbed local immunity. Bacterial, biomaterial, and host-responses involved in the pathogenesis are subject of studies, in order to find novel approaches for treatment and prevention. In the NANTICO (Non-adherent ANTImicrobial Coatings) consortium project different antimicrobial coating strategies have been developed to prevent infection. In the IBIZA (Imaging of Biomaterial-associated Infection using Zebrafish Analysis) a novel model for testing new biomaterials is being developed, and in the BALI (Biofilm Alliance) EU FP7 project we develop novel Synthetic Antimicrobial Antibiofilm Peptides for controlled release coatings to prevent infection of  titanium implants.
Novel antimicrobial strategies. The increase in antibiotic resistance necessitates investigations into novel antimicrobial strategies. For this we study cationic antimicrobial proteins and peptides (AMP) and natural sources such as medical grade honey. We have identified thrombocidins as the major AMP of human blood platelets, and have designed novel SAAPs (see above) based on their structure. The mechanism of action of these SAAPs is studied in depth, and they are utilized for a variety of translational research projects. Honey has been used as an antimicrobial agent since ancient times. We have fully characterized the antimicrobial components of one medicinal honey and are investigating the components responsible for the antimicrobial activity of a large collection of monofloral honeys in order to identify novel antimicrobials, in order to provide additional solutions for the major problem of antibiotic resistance. 

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