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Mathematical Musings on Blindness & Bacteria

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In this talk I will discuss some of my work on the mathematical modelling of the retina and of bacterial infections.

Part I: The term Retinitis Pigmentosa refers to a range of genetically mediated diseases which cause the progressive degeneration of the retina; the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye. Retinal degeneration initiates in localised patches which subsequently spread and coalesce, leading to complete vision loss. It is not known what causes degeneration to spread; however, it has been hypothesised that increased oxygen levels, following cell loss, may be to blame. We use mathematical models, formulated as systems of PDEs in 1- and 2-dimensions, to test this hypothesis and to investigate potential treatment strategies.

Part II: As the development of new classes of antibiotics slows, bacterial resistance to existing antibiotics is becoming an increasing problem. A potential solution is to develop treatment strategies with an alternative mode of action. In this talk, we consider one such strategy: anti-adhesion therapy. Whereas antibiotics act directly upon bacteria, either killing them or inhibiting their growth, anti-adhesion therapy works by competitively inhibiting the binding of bacteria to host cells. This prevents the bacteria from deploying their arsenal of virulence mechanisms, whilst simultaneously rendering them more susceptible to natural clearance. We develop an ODE model to describe the anti-adhesion treatment of a Pseudomonas aeruginosa burn wound infection in the rat. Benchmarking our model against in vivo data from an accompanying experimental programme, we use the model to predict optimum treatment strategies.

This talk is part of the Applied Mathematics Seminar Series series.

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