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

Targeting bacterial metabolism to help treat Otitis Media


Otitis media is one of the most common infections in young children with 80% of children experiencing acute otitis media by the age of 3, and a further 40% having repeat occurrences before the age of 7. Despite concerns over the development of antibiotic resistance otitis media remains the primary reason for paediatric antibiotic prescription. There is therefore a pressing need for the development of alternative therapeutic strategies that can alleviate the burden on antibiotic usage.


A Haemophilus influenzae biofilm
A Haemophilus influenzae biofilm

Biofilm formation, where individual bacterial cells cluster together to form large aggregates, has been shown to play an important role in otitis media. The bacteria that form these biofilms have developed numerous mechanisms that help them survive antibiotic treatment and evade the host immune response. We therefore need to tailor new treatments that will directly target these biofilms and make them more sensitive to antibiotics.

Our work

Previous research undertaken by our group has shown that when bacteria form biofilms they alter their metabolism to survive. This represents a potential target for the development of new treatments. Our research aims to identify metabolic changes in Haemophilus influenzae biofilms, a major pathogen in otitis media. Once identified we then aim to produce surfaces coated with a specific treatment that affects these metabolic pathways, thus preventing biofilm formation and reducing antibiotic tolerance.



Protein expression changes in H. influenzae following treatment
Protein expression changes in H. influenzae following treatment

About the team

Dr Ray Allan (Research Fellow) is the NAMRIP Pump Priming project lead.

This research brings together researchers from the Southampton NIHR WTCRF and Biofilm and Microbial Communities Research group (Dr Ray Allan & Prof Saul Faust) who have extensive experience in the development of new therapies to combat biofilm-associated AMR, and nCATS (Dr Simon Dennington & Prof Paul Stoodley) who provide specialist expertise in developing multifunctional surfaces to prevent biofilm formation.


This project is funded by the EPSRC's Network for Antimicrobial Action, 'Bridging the Gap' programme, EP/M027260/1 (Round 1 of Pump Priming).


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