Brown University School of Engineering

Biomedical Engineering Seminar: Fungal and bacterial infections: strategies for drug discovery and diagnostic tool development

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Thursday, October 17, 2013 2:00pm - 3:00pm

Prof. Eleftherios Mylonakis, Beth Fuchs; Infectious Diseases Division. Rhode Island Hospital, Alpert Medical School of Brown University Medical advancements that provide implantation of medical devices or organ transplants address the immediate needs of the patient, but in the process also make patients vulnerable to opportunistic infections. As a result, there is an increasing occurrence of fungal and bacterial infections that arise due to lack of host defenses. To combat the problem of infections, clinicians need to be equipped with better means to diagnose infections and a larger arsenal of therapeutic drugs. Our lab has developed and employees a C. elegans invertebrate model to achieve high throughput screening for the identification of new compounds that exhibit antimicrobial activity without toxic effects to the host. To implement affective therapy, appropriate diagnosis of the infecting agent is needed. Current methodology for bacterial and fungal diagnostics requires the growth of pathogens from collected biological specimens, a time consuming process that can hinder the treatment of patients. By isolating fungi and bacteria from blood, rather than growing them, our goal is to be able to use the retrieved cells for diagnostics and therefore diminish the time to achieve an appropriate treatment. We utilize microfluidics and the microbial structure as a means to isolate pathogens from blood.