Nano-scale systems for the detection and treatment of bacterial infections in burn wounds
: Modes of action and efficacy

  • William Jamieson

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


Bacterial infections are and likely always will be a serious and costly complication to treatment in a healthcare environment. However consistent rises in the number of both healthcare associated and antibiotic resistant infections over the last of decades has the potential to turn a serious problem into a catastrophe. Control of infections in hospital wards has improved over the last five years but data from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control suggests a stale mate. While the numerical rise in drug resistant organisms has slowed, the severity of drug resistance appears to be on the increase with the prolific emergence of multiple drug resistant isolates. On the front lines of the threat that these organisms represent are some of the most susceptible. In hospitals those who are already sick are more vulnerable, those with co-morbidities, those with surgical or other wounds, the very old and the very young. Children especially show high susceptibility as they are often incapable of communicating clinical complications in the way an adult might. This coupled with higher commonality of specific aetiologies in children such as scalds, open wounds that are prone to infection without proper treatment, creates population in need.Antibiotics are often thought to be part of the problem in drug resistance, indeed to an extent they are. However their real downfall may be improper use. In order to improve treatment outcomes and simultaneously decrease antimicrobial resistance a combination of rapid diagnosis and prophylaxis can be utilised to decrease selection of resistance.As such, this study focuses on the development of a novel vesicle based sensor system for the detection of bacterial infections in burn wounds. Additionally an organometallic antimicrobial system has been developed with the potential for surface attachment. Work with the vesicle based biosensor demonstrates high sensitivity to both Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. The toxins involved in activation of the sensor have been determined in both cases and an in-depth study into the activity of the staphylococcal agents of lysis (Phenol Soluble Modulins and delta haemolysin), shows a high degree of plasticity and tunability in the sensors function. Work with the zinc based antimicrobial reveals a highly complex system which demonstrates possible functions as a not only an antimicrobial but as a sensor system in its own right.
Date of Award12 Jun 2014
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorToby Jenkins (Supervisor) & Andrew Johnson (Supervisor)


  • Biosensor
  • Antimicrobial
  • staphylococcus
  • lipid bilayer
  • fluorescent sensor

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