UCD researcher co-leads €4.5m project to use cold plasma to treat Orthopaedic infection

Posted 9 April, 2020

University College Dublin Professor Paula Bourke is principal investigator on a new €4.5 million collaborative project seeking to use cold plasma to combat antibiotic resistant infections.

The researcher, from the UCD School of Biosystems and Food Engineering, is developing new threrapies that use cold plasma to inactivite microbes and bacteria that cause infections following orthopaedic surgery.

The funding for this project was awarded through the US-Ireland Research and Development Partnership, a tripartite partnership between the United States of America, Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Professor Bourke is co-lead and will carry out her work in collaboration with Professor Brendan Gilmore, Queen’s University Belfast and Professor Theresa Freeman and Professor Noreen Hickok, Jefferson University.

“I am delighted that our project has secured this significant funding from the US-Ireland Research and Development Partnership to address the serious medical complications which can arise due to bone infection following orthopaedic surgery,” she said.

“I now look forward to working with this multi-PI team of researchers from UCD, QUB and Jefferson University, and our aim is to develop cold plasma treatments, tailored for high antimicrobial efficacy as well as stimulating immune responses, to eradicate such bone infections.”

Infection following an orthopaedic implant is a life threatening complication, and new therapies to combat antibiotic resistant microorganisms and stimulate the patient’s own immune response to combat infection are required, Professor Bourke added.

Professor Orla Feely, UCD Vice-President for Research, Innovation and Impact said the health project Professor Bourke is co-leading had “the potential to make a significant impact in the way bone infections are treated in patients following orthopaedic surgery”.

The US-Ireland Research and Development Partnership, launched in July 2006, is a unique initiative that aims to increase the level of collaborative R&D amongst researchers and industry professionals.

The partner agencies involved are Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), the Health Research Board (HRB) and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM).

A total of four projects were announced as recieving funding, with more than 40 research positions across 10 research institutions being created over the next three to five years.

Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland, said: “The continued success of the US-Ireland R&D Partnership Programme demonstrates the strong open relationship between our countries and highlights Ireland’s scientific standing internationally.”

By: David Kearns, Digital Journalist / Media Officer, UCD University Relations