Interview: ‘To better understand antibiotic resistance, we need to learn more about the metabolism of pathogens’
This is an interview with a PhD student of the Disease Intervention Strategies projects in a series of background articles. Keep following this website for the next interview in this series.
Interview with Maik Kok, PhD student of the Antibiotic persister and biofilm-associated infections: Investigating the role of the host microenvironment to optimize antibiotic therapy project at Leiden University – LACDR
Pathogens in the lungs can adapt to their environment in order to survive antibiotic treatment. Maik Kok is studying the role of metabolism in this process and the resulting effects on antibiotic resistance.
I am an analytical chemist by training. My PhD project is a collaboration between the Analytical Bio-sciences and Metabolomics group led by Thomas Hankemeier and the Quantitative Pharmacology group led by Coen van Hasselt, which has a focus on antibiotic treatment and resistance. In this project we combine these two expertise areas.
In patients with cystic fibrosis we see that infections with the bacterial pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa are very hard to treat. The pathogen easily adapts its metabolism in order to better survive and potentially become resistant to antibiotic treatments. In this project I study the role of the metabolism of Pseudomonas aeruginosa in relation to antibiotic tolerance and resistance.
We are particularly interested in the role of the pathogen’s environment in the lung during infections, where antibiotic tolerance can be a major challenge. We expect that the presence or absence of specific nutrients can play a relevant role in modulating bacterial metabolism. This would explain the ability of Pseudomonas aeruginosa to develop survival strategies. Hopefully my research can contribute some insight into these factors and contribute to the design of more effective treatments to combat antibiotic resistance.
PhD project: Antibiotic persister and biofilm-associated infections: Investigating the role of the host microenvironment to optimize antibiotic therapy.