Research group aims to develop antibiotic alternative

The polymers should be able to destroy antibiotic-resistant germs without harming humans, the group says

The Emmy Noether Group ‘Next Generation Antimicrobial Polymers’ has begun its work at the University of Potsdam in close cooperation with the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP. The goal is to develop antimicrobial polymers that can replace antibiotics.

Dr Matthias Hartlieb, who founded and leads the research group, aims to develop novel polymers at the University of Potsdam. They should be able to destroy antibiotic-resistant germs without harming humans, the group says.

The project will involve 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", said Hartlieb.

Dr Ruben R. Rosencrantz, who heads the Life Science and Bioprocesses research division at Fraunhofer IAP, said: "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 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", said Hartlieb. "It is therefore essential to find new ways to effectively counter bacterial infections.

The Emmy Noether Program of the German Research Foundation (DFG) supports young scientists and offers them the opportunity to qualify for a university professorship by independently leading a research group. Hartlieb's group is funded with around $1.95m for 6 years.

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