How Does a Nano Scientist Fight Superbugs?

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Seminar by Dr. Magalí Lingenfelder, Max Planck-EPFL Lab for Molecular Nanoscience, Lausanne (Switzerland)

ICIQ Seminar Programme Chairperson:
Dr. Elisabet Romero

ICIQ Seminar Programme Co-Chairperson:
Prof. Paolo Melchiorre



It is projected that by 2050 bacteria will kill more people than cancer due to antibiotic resistance, we urgently need to find effective methods to prevent the spread of microbial infections. In my research group, we tackle this problem at the surface of biomedical devices that are a primary source of biofilm formation. In this talk, I will take you in a journey from fundamental protein-surface interactions to the design of nanostructured antimicrobial surfaces.

Our guide is a fast-scan atomic force microscope (AFM) combined with in-situ liquid flow that allows us to measure the kinetics of molecular self-assembly, across length (nm to mm) and time scales (seconds to days). Using this approach, we resolved within a single experiment the kinetic pathway of proteins at the solid–liquid interface, obtaining a model that accounts for the nucleation, growth and structural rearrangements in protein self-assembly. Via a collaboration with Dr. Med. Claudia Arbeitman from the Hospital del Niño San Justo, we created antimicrobial plastic materials that were successfully tested against multi-resistant bacteria isolated from hospitalized patients.


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