Antimicrobial polymers as alternatives to antibiotics

January 25, 2021
 Antimicrobial polymers as alternatives to antibiotics

Recently, the new Emmy Noether Group of the German Research Foundation (DFG) started its work at the University of Potsdam in close cooperation with the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP to develop antimicrobial polymers that can replace antibiotics.

“The fight against antibiotic resistance is unfortunately becoming increasingly important. After all, if we as a society lose the ability to fight bacterial infections, we would be facing difficult times”, explains Dr. Matthias Hartlieb, who founded and heads the research group. “It is therefore essential to find new ways to effectively counter bacterial infections.”

With his research team, the chemist aims to develop novel polymers at the University of Potsdam. They should be able to destroy antibiotic-resistant germs without harming humans. A key component of this project is the close cooperation with the Fraunhofer IAP, which is also located in the Potsdam Science Park.

“We are very happy to have the Fraunhofer IAP at our side, not only in close proximity but also scientifically. This is because, in addition to their proven expertise in the field of polymer research, our colleagues have a great deal of experience in the development of biofunctionalized materials and in testing with pathogens. They also have the appropriate safety laboratories,” says Hartlieb. Dr. Ruben R. Rosencrantz, who heads the Life Science and Bioprocesses research division at Fraunhofer IAP.

He adds: “At Fraunhofer IAP, we are primarily investigating sugar-based interactions with pathogens and testing the antimicrobial efficacy of the newly developed polymers as part of this project. The transfer of excellent basic research into application plays an important role for us.”

The Emmy Noether Program supports young scientists and offers them the opportunity to qualify for a university professorship by independently leading a research group. Dr. Matthias Hartlieb’s group is funded with around EUR1.6 million for 6 years.

Read: Extensive antibiotics use increases future risk of colon cancer

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