Nanotherapeutics – ‘How we sometimes underestimate the influence of little things’
Iris L. Batalha, Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC)
Deaths caused by infections from antibiotic-resistant bacteria are expected to skyrocket over the next decades, with a staggering 10 million deaths per year projected for 2050. Treating infections by intracellular pathogens, such as M. tuberculosis, is ‘a perfect storm’. The WHO revealed that while some 50 new antibiotics and 10 biologics are under development, only half of those target WHO-priority pathogens and the majority have very limited benefits when compared to existing antibiotics. Reformulating existent drugs in nanocarriers may help achieving enhanced efficacy and safety while reducing dose frequency, by providing temporal and localised control of drug exposure. In this talk, I will present my work on the synthesis of dual-drug tunable nanoparticle-based antibiotics, which showed increased bacterial killing efficacy in a zebrafish larval model of mycobacterial infection when compared to free drugs at the same concentration. In addition, nanoparticles were able to efficiently penetrate mycobacterial cords and granulomatous lesions – shielded regions of difficult access by free drugs, improving the therapeutic effect.
Iris Batalha is currently a Junior Leader Research Fellow at the Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC) in Barcelona, a Panel Tutor in Nanotherapeutics at the University of Cambridge Institute of Continuing Education, a freelance Senior Innovation Consultant at Inspiralia (Spain and USA), a Co-founder, Director and Editor-in-Chief of the non-profit organisation Women Ahead of Their Time (WATT), and a Research Associate at Peterhouse College. From 2017 to 2020, she was a joint Research Associate at the Department of Engineering Nanoscience Centre and Department of Medicine Molecular Immunity Unit, University of Cambridge. From 2014 to 2017, she worked at the Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology, University of Cambridge, and the biopharmaceutical company MedImmune/Astrazeneca, followed by a brief experience as a healthcare/pharmaceutical consultant. Her research interests and expertise lie in medical and pharmaceutical research and development, particularly in the fields of nanobiotechnology, bio-inspired materials, downstream processing, formulation and drug delivery.
Sala Baobab, Tower I, 11 Floor, IBEC