Invited Speaker Australian Society for Microbiology Annual Scientific Meeting 2018

My journey with E. coli and urinary tract infections: 15 years, 3 continents, 6 universities and lots of fun on the way. (#62)

Makrina Totsika 1
  1. Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation, School of Biomedical Sciences, Queensland University of Technology, Kelvin Grove, Brisbane, QLD, Australia

In the space of my 15-year research journey, I have been studying E. coli causing urinary tract infections, a group of pathogens known as uropathogenic E. coli or UPEC. My studies have focused on UPEC virulence, adhesion mechanisms in particular, and my work has dissected their gene structure and regulation, unraveled their biogenesis and characterized their function. During this time, I have witnessed the global rise of UPEC to the top of WHO’s pathogen priority list due to the emergence and rapid expansion of multidrug resistant clonal groups. Reports of pandrug resistant UPEC are increasing and the treatment of urinary tract infections is now a significant challenge for clinicians worldwide. The large number of urinary tract infections annually combined with the paucity in effective available treatments calls for immediate action. My lab investigates the molecular factors that confer UPEC fitness within a host and translates this knowledge into therapeutic strategies to overcome the problem of failing antibiotics. Our current work with different classes of virulence inhibitors is promising to provide effective and superior therapies for antibiotic-resistant urinary tract infections, as well as other common infections caused by different pathogens. This work could offer a paradigm-shift of how we treat infections in the near future.