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Innovative approach to antibiotic resistance

Resistance to antibiotics is a major problem in health care. Thanks to a joint grant from the Elise Mathilde Fund and Leiden University Fund (LUF), supported by alumni donations, pharmacologist dr. Coen van Hasselt can look for new dosing schedules to reduce the development of antibiotic resistance.

Van Hasselt is conducting research into the relationship between the time certain concentrations of antibiotics need to kill pathogenic bacteria and the resistance those same bacteria develop. He combines experiments in the lab with mathematical models that describe the behavior of antibiotics in the body.

Dosage schedules

"Ultimately, this research should lead to the formulation of dosing schedules that are not only optimized for combating the bacterial infection but can also limit resistance development," says Van Hasselt. "This is badly needed, because more and more bacteria become resistant to antibiotics, while hardly any new antibiotics are discovered. It might be increasingly difficult to fight bacterial infections in the future."

"More and more bacteria become resistant to antibiotics, while hardly any new antibiotics are discovered."

Van Hasselt recently received a grant from the Elise Mathilde Fund and the LUF to further develop his research proposal. The Elise Mathilde Foundation has been associated with LUF since 2016 and funds scientific projects, supplemented with funding from LUF. With the combined support Van Hasselt can develop a so-called 'proof of concept'.

Stepping stone

"The grant is a nice stepping stone," says Van Hasselt. "Thanks to this funding, I can show the potential of this project, for example by drawing up a dosing schedule for one bacterial strain. I can use the results for larger grant applications, such as a Vidi grant from the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO)."

Cyclic treatment

In the longer term, Van Hasselt also hopes to look at the combination of different antibiotics to combat resistance. 'If bacteria become resistant to one particular antibiotic, they sometimes become more sensitive to another type of antibiotic. Perhaps it is possible to set up a cyclical dosing schedule in which we treat infections with different types of antibiotics in turn. I would like to do more research on that subject."

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