Wounds and Biofilm Infections

The wound infection microenvironment 

In wound infections, an intricate communicative network exists between host cells, extracellular matrix, microbes, and immune cells, which are regulated by complex chemical and mechanical cues. 

Microbial biofilms are the single-most important cause of non-healing wounds 

An in vitro platform that mimics the wound infection milieu  

We have developed an in vitro, biomimetic fluid that aims to recapitulate key components and their functions present in the wound infection milieu. This platform lends itself well to study important wound infection parameters such as bacterial growth, biofilm formation and metabolic activity, cell migration and wound closure, and can importantly be leveraged to explore three-dimensional biofilm architecture in human relevant wound conditions. 

Developing a human-relevant, bioengineered platform for wound bed studies and translational applications 

Using a bioengineering 'lab-on-chip' approach, we have developed an in vitro platform that mimics the architecture and biophysical factors of the wound state. Developing using in house design, software, and mechanical components, this platform is designed to be suitable for microscopy and cell and microbial culture. It will provide insights into the dynamic wound infection microenvironment and can be leveraged to evaluate therapeutics for wound infections.

Funded by the Ramalingaswami Re-entry Fellowship, Department of Biotechnology, Govt. of India 

Human-Relevant Pre-clinical Testing of Infection Therapeutics

A microengineered platform for accelerated and high-throughput testing of infection therapeutics, including anti-biofilm approaches

Developing a biomimetic wound infection platform for accelerated and high-throughput pre-clinical testing of infection therapeutics

We aim to develop an in vitro model of the wound infection state that lends itself well for high-throughput, accelerated, precise, reproducible, accurate and low-cost testing and development of infection therapeutics. This will not only serve as an alternative to animal testing, but also open a new paradigm in infection therapeutics development with the 'Test more, Fail fast' approach. 

Funded by Innovative Young Biotechnologist Award (IYBA), Department of Biotechnology, Govt. of India 

Bridging the 'Gap': Co-development of a human-relevant 3D wound model of multispecies biofilms for preclinical testing of therapeutics

With Dr. Joey Shepherd and team at the University of Sheffield, UK, we will bridge research expertise across our groups in UK and India, to co-develop a human-relevant 3D wound model of multispecies biofilms, as a potential alternative to animal-based pre-clinical testing.

Through this collaboration, in 12 months, we will have developed for the scientific community a laboratory platform that recapitulates the wound infection state with multispecies biofilm growth, in the presence of relevant host components.  

Funded by The Royal Society International Exchanges 2020 

Karishma and Nizam visited Joey and Hollie at The University of Sheffield in August 2022.

We initiated the first phase of the research exchange!

Joey and Hollie visited Savitribai Phule Pune University in February 2023.

This was the second and final phase of the Royal Society Grant! 

We have bridged our models and we look forward to publishing it soon!

Biofilms in oral infection states

Exploring the role of biofilms in tobacco-associated oral cancer

Tobacco-associated precancerous lesions exist and develop in a dynamic, oral microenvironment, characterized by distinct microbial signatures. These precancerous lesions are intricately associated with diverse, multi-species microbial biofilms, which influence key processes chronic inflammation and carcinogenesis. This offers the possibility that the oral microbiome (or biofilms) can be leveraged as a tool or target in the management of tobacco-associated precancerous lesions, thereby opening precision-based oral cancer therapeutics.

Historical remedies for biofilms

'Ancientbiotics' for biofilms: Can we look back to move forward?

The stalled antibiotic pipeline, rise in antibiotic resistance, and recalcitrant state of biofilm infections prompts the urgent need for novel therapeutic approaches. However, biofilms have probably existed since the advent of microbial life, and so have infection therapeutics for common biofilm states such as wound, ocular, ear and dental infections. We identify, reconstitute and explore ancient remedies from historical Indian medicine, and evaluate them for anti-biofilm effects using contemporary scientific approaches.

This project is funded by the Africa-India Mobility Fund (AIMF), India Alliance. 

With Dr. Philip Builders at National Institute of Pharmaceutical Development and Research (NIPRD), Abuja, Nigeria, we will be working to analyze the anti-biofilm potential of traditional African plant-based remedies for wounds using the in vitro wound milieu developed by our group.

Antibiofilm potential of historical African remedies for wounds

Read about how the AIMF grant and collaboration came to be!

As part of the AIMF grant, we host Dr. Noorunnisa Begum for a talk on 

'Herbariums and Plant Sample Preparations: What do we need to know?'

It was wonderful to host faculty and students across Nigeria and India for this webinar!

Potential projects

Dissecting host-microbial dynamics in  chronic wound infections, with special reference to immune cell dynamics

Using an in vitro, biomimetic model of the chronic wound-bed capillary interface, our research will study immune cell signaling and expression, under selective and precise conditions of the chronic wound infection state. This will provide invaluable insights into immune cell functioning and potential therapeutics towards the chronic wound infection state. 

Long-term characterization of microbial populations from patients with chronic wound infection states 

We are starting a research project that focuses on long-term characterization of microbial populations from patients with chronic wound infections. We are looking to collaborate with clinicians/clinical microbiologists/infectious disease specialists/surgeons and academic faculty. 

Get in touch!