The NARILIS Infectiology Research Pole joins the fight against antibiotic-resistant Acinetobacter baumannii

The bacterium Acinetobacter baumannii represents a deadly threat to human health. This bacterium preferentially infects immunocompromised individuals and is therefore often associated with hospital-acquired infections, in particular in patients admitted to intensive care units and requiring invasive medical devices such as ventilators and blood catheters.

Over the past decades, the increasing resistance of A. baumannii to a large number of antibiotics, including carbapenems, has become a frightening reality. In 2017, the World Health Organization (WHO) has ranked this multidrug-resistant bacterium among the n°1 priority pathogens for which new fighting strategies are required!

Since January 2018, the NARILIS Infectiology Research Pole is hosting post-doc researcher Dr. Charles Van der Henst, whose objective will be to gain a better understanding of the virulence mechanisms of A. baumannii. The original aspect of this work will be the use of amoebae as host models to study the interaction with the pathogen. This research project will rely on the expertise of Prof. Xavier De Bolle (Research Unit in Biology of Microorganisms, UNamur) and Prof. Karine Van Doninck (Research Unit in Environmental and Evolutionary Biology, UNamur).

Moreover, the effects of several chemical compounds on this host-pathogen interaction will be tested thanks to the support of the Namur Medicine & Drug Innovation Center (NAMEDIC). Finally, the project will also benefit from the tight collaboration existing between the UNamur and the clinical microbiology laboratory of the CHU UCL Namur (Prof. Youri Glupczynski, Dr. Te-Din Huang and Dr. Pierre Bogaerts), which coordinates the National Reference Center for multidrug-resistant Acinetobacter.

This 2-year project is supported by a Marie-Skłodowska-Curie Individual fellowship of the European Union's Horizon 2020 Programme (see project details).

Picture from Loris « SKAY » Chabotier