Antibiotic resistance: Phages to the rescue

Belinda Bantham -- Tue, 09/03/2019 - 12:39

Antibiotic resistance: Phages to the rescue

On 30 August 2019 the North-West University’s (NWU’s) Prof Collins Ateba from the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences delivered his inaugural address titled "Phages to the rescue: A story with a ‘possible’ happy conclusion”. 

Prof Ateba explained his current research, which focusses on the development of bacteriophage concoctions, phage* products and plant-derived nanoparticles that may serve as bio-control or therapeutic agents for multi-drug resistant and highly pathogenic bacterial strains.

“This study is fully supported by the National Research Foundation (NRF) and is a collaboration with scientists from Agriculture and AgriFood in Canada and the University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada,” said Prof Ateba.

Prof Ateba’s research aims to contribute to the World Health Organisation’s approved global action plan on antimicrobial resistance. This global action plan has five strategic objectives: to improve the awareness and understanding of antimicrobial resistance; to strengthen surveillance and research; to reduce the incidence of infection; to optimise the use of antimicrobial medicines, and to ensure sustainable investment in countering antimicrobial resistance.

During the lecture Prof Ateba presented his research findings for both his master’s and doctoral studies, as well as peer-reviewed journal publications. These research findings display a highly focused progression from documentation of bacteria food contaminants to surveillance studies on antimicrobial resistance and virulence gene detection.

Prof Ateba concluded by providing outputs and views that contribute towards sustainable investment in countering antimicrobial resistance.

*Bacteriophages or phages are viruses that infect a bacterium and replicate inside it until they destroy the host bacterium. Unlike antibiotics, which affect a wide range of different bacteria, phages only target specific bacteria for destruction.

More about the researcher

Prof Collins Ateba is a NRF C3-rated researcher. He is currently the principal investigator of a highly specialised research group called Antibiotic Resistance and Phage Bio Control in the subject group Microbiology. This group is currently made up of 18 research students at honours, master’s, doctoral and postdoctoral level.

Prof Ateba's research expertise is in the area of applied and environmental microbiology with extended interest in antimicrobial resistance, water/wastewater quality, food safety, bioactive compounds as well as bacteriophage bio control/therapy.

 Prof Marilyn Setlalentoa, the deputy vice-chancellor for community engagement and operations on the campus in Mahikeng, congratulates Prof Collins Ateba after his inaugural lecture.