Developing hybrid antimicrobial peptides to treat corneal infection

Research details

  • Type of funding: MRC / Fight for Sight Clinical Research Training Fellowship
  • Grant Holder: Dr Darren Shu Jeng Ting
  • Institute: University of Nottingham
  • Region: East Midlands
  • Start date: August 2019
  • End Date: July 2021
  • Priority: Treatment
  • Eye Category: Corneal & external
Brief lay background

Bacterial corneal infection (or bacterial keratitis) is a major cause for corneal blindness worldwide. Broad-spectrum antibiotics are the mainstay of treatment for bacterial keratitis; however there has been a decline in the efficacy of existing antibiotics due to emerging antimicrobial resistance in both ocular and systemic infections. Furthermore, biofilm formation has been shown during bacterial keratitis, enhancing the bacterial virulence and resistance to antibiotics. These issues highlight an urgent need for alternative antimicrobial therapy, ideally with anti-biofilm efficacy.

What problem/knowledge gap does it help address

Antimicrobial peptides (AMPs), which play a vital role in the immune system and could be easier for the body to absorb than proteins, have recently shown promise as potential therapeutic agents. The overarching objective of this proposed research is to create efficacious and safe hybrid AMPs for corneal infection.

Aim of the project

To design and develop a novel class of antimicrobial agent - human-derived hybrid AMPs - to treat corneal infection.

Key procedures/objectives
  1. Analyse and optimise hybrid AMPs
  2. Determine the antimicrobial and anti-biofilm efficacies of optimised AMPs in established models.
  3. Validate the in vivo antimicrobial efficacy and safety of the most potent hybrid AMPs.
Potential impact on people with sight loss

Successful development of these novel hybrid peptides will benefit the population who are at risk of corneal infection, including contact lens wearers and those with increased susceptibility to trauma, among others. These factors are commonly associated with young people and working adults, so this project could reverse the negative impact on the public and private workforce who are affected.