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School of Dental Science Secures Significant Emerging Investigator

Award from Health Research Board

The Health Research Board (HRB) has just announced an €8 million investment in new health research through its Emerging Investigator Awards (EIA) scheme. These awards are designed to create a pipeline of researcher leaders who will improve health, influence clinical practice and inform health policy across a broad range of areas. This investment is intended to advance the skills and expertise of researchers, while at the same time generating research outcomes that have strong potential to impact on people’s health, patient care or health policy. A total of 11 EIA awards have been approved in 2019.
One of the EIA grants has been awarded to Dr. Brenda McManus from the School of Dental Science, Division of Oral Biosciences Microbiology Research Unit, to investigate the role of oro-nasal staphylococcal bacteria in diabetic foot ulcer infections (DFUIs) and to explore the potential of electrochemically-activated anolyte solutions as a novel treatment for DFUIs. A multidisciplinary research team including Dr. Brenda McManus (Principal Investigator), Professor David Coleman (Co-Applicant and Mentor), Professor Blánaid Daly (Co-Applicant) and Dr. Maria vanHarten (Co-Applicant) from the Dental School in partnership with Dr. Marie-Louise Healy (Co-Applicant) from the Diabetes Day Centre at St. James’s Hospital (SJH) have developed a comprehensive collaborative research programme to investigate these issues. The project will run for four years and will be supported by a range of clinical and research collaborators at the Dublin Dental University Hospital (DDUH), SJH and Tallaght University Hospital.
Patients with type II diabetes are at high risk for periodontal disease and diabetic foot ulcer (DFU) development. Staphylococcal bacteria are the predominant cause of DFUIs, which significantly increase the risk of requiring a life-changing lower limb amputation. Staphylococci are also prevalent in the oro-nasal cavity and gums of patients with periodontal disease. This research uses cutting-edge whole genome sequencing technology available at the DDUH Division of Oral Biosciences Microbiology Research Unit laboratories to investigate if oro-nasal and periodontal staphylococci are genetically identical to staphylococci recovered from ulcers. A detailed understanding of endogenous microbial reservoirs such as the oro-nasal cavity for potential DFUI development is fundamental for identifying new approaches to control and minimise such infection risks. The Microbiology Research Unit also houses state of the art facilities and expertise for developing novel approaches to treating DFUIs using electrochemically-activated solutions.
According to Dr. McManus “Diabetic foot ulcer infections are a tremendous burden for patients. They can often result in lower limb amputations, which have catastrophic consequences for patients and their families. This HRB EIA award provides an exciting opportunity to tackle one of the most significant causes of DFUIs and to investigate the role of oral health in these infections. The development of novel treatment alternatives to antibiotics has significant potential to provide an effective and inexpensive DFUI treatment option.”
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