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With the ever-increasing spread of “superbugs” – antimicrobial-resistant microorganisms – and the sluggish pace of novel antibiotic discovery, there is a pressing need for immediate solutions to the looming global crisis of antibiotic resistance. Worldwide, an estimated 700,000 people die every year from MDR infections. The excessive use of antibiotics and lack of proper antibiotic stewardship in the past has facilitated the selection of multidrug resistant (MDR) bacteria in the population, which are now resistant to even last resort antibiotics such as carbapenems and colistin. Despite the alarmingly increasing incidence in antibiotic resistance, there are limited options and strategies available to address this crisis, posing an immediate threat for the treatment of even the most common infections. Our goal at the Antimicrobial Resistance lab at ASBT is to study the molecular mechanisms of antibiotic resistance in nosocomial gram-negative pathogens, such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Klebsiella pneumoniae, and Acinetobacter baumannii. Using phage biology and active genetics, we aim to target these multidrug resistant (MDR) bacteria to revert antibiotic resistant to antibiotic sensitive phenotypes.

Our research is primarily focused on combating Antimicrobial Resistance using multiple approaches:

  • Screening Natural Products that can function as anti-quorum sensing agents and elucidating their mechanism of action
  • Isolation, characterization and application of bacteriophages or cocktails of phages for environmental as well as potential clinical use – phage therapy
  • Mutational analysis of the AMR genes of Pseudomonas aeruginosa
  • Phage-mediated gene drive using CRISPR-Cas9 to target the AMR genes of pathogens
  • Understanding Persistence and its role in antimicrobial resistance (AMR)
  • Studying the inter-relationship between virulence and antimicrobial resistance

Starting in 2018, the Antimicrobial Resistance lab has been collaborating with the Tata Institute for Genetics and Society (TIGS) to combat MDR gram-negative pathogens. Our current focus is the characterization of bacteriophages and genome editing strategies to target MDR Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which is classified as a critical priority pathogen by WHO.

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