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Research interests

My research focuses on developing an innovative bacteriophage (phage, virus of bacteria) technology to control bacterial zoonotic bacteria safely and effectively in humans and animals to complement other controls and surveillance strategies and to save lives. Conventional treatment of bacterial zoonoses has mainly focus on using antibiotics, but these pathogens are constantly evolving, and acquiring antimicrobial genes that are contributing to their success and spread. To effectively control these infections, a completely different mechanistic approach is needed to supplement antibiotics. 

Phages are natural enemies of bacteria and have great advantages over antibiotics. They are easy to isolate and develop, can effectively target and kill antimicrobial resistant bacteria in biofilms (which are common in packaging and not easily accessible to antibiotics), safe on gut microbiome and amplify at infection sites ensuring continuous dose supply. Although discovered over a century ago, phages are gaining more recognition lately due to increased awareness. Thus, many phage preparations are being investigated for therapeutic usage in foods.

Therefore, my research would focus on important zoonotic pathogens such as E. coli O157, Salmonella enterica and Clostridium difficile and identify lytic phages which will target and kill representative prevalent serotypes/strains. Further work would focus on optimising phage cocktail based on their phage morphology, stability and genome content broaden clinical coverage and mitigate any resistance effects and determine the therapeutic potential of the cocktails in relevant infection models.

Knowledge gained here would direct further development of the phages for the control of E. coli O157 in food packaging.


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