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The University of Southampton
Global Network for Anti-Microbial Resistance and Infection Prevention

Tuberculosis: from 2D to 3D testing

Published: 23 July 2015

Researchers at the University of Southampton have won Innovation Grant funding from the MRC to study drug-resistant tuberculosis.

Tuberculosis spheres - find out more about the research

The project will use a highly innovative testing system

The system uses human cells which are infected with tuberculosis and studied in 3-dimensional culture. The investigators developed the system with engineers to create a system where antibiotic killing of infection can be evaluated in a more human-like system. It capitalises on the unique laboratory infrastructure at the University of Southampton that has been created for these interdisciplinary studies.

Tuberculosis continues to be a major global health problem

The disease kills almost 1.5 million people per year, and is becoming progressively more resistant to the antibiotics used to treat it. Standard treatment has not changed for over 30 years, while in the last two decades, multi-drug resistant, extensively drug resistant and, most recently, totally drug resistant strains have emerged. Therefore, new approaches to developing and testing antibiotics are needed to halt the spread of drug-resistant disease.

I am delighted that we have the opportunity to investigate new agents to treat TB. We are working in close collaboration with Francis Drobniewski from Imperial College London and our model system has potential to greatly improve our understanding of how human cells respond to tuberculosis infection and how antibiotics kill the bacteria

Paul Elkington - Senior Lecturer in Respiratory Medicine, University of Southampton, who will lead the study

This is a fantastic example of pioneering work at the interface between medicine and engineering that will step-change our ability to address major challenges to human health, specifically, taking the testing system for resistance from the 2D petri dish to a 3D platform that more closely resembles the real world

Professor Tim Leighton FREng FRS - Chair of NAMRIP

Notes for editors

NAMRIP is funded by the University of Southampton and benefits hugely from £868,704.00 of funding from EPSRC's Network for Antimicrobial Action 'Bridging the Gap' call [EP/MO27260/1].

The MRC has also invested in NAMRIP, with Syma Khalid’s as well as Paul Elkington’s project [MR/N006631/1].

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