Marija Vukomanovic

Marija Vukomanović (née Jevtić) has been working in the area of biomaterials for the last 10 years. She started her work in biomaterials within master thesis dedicated to innovative approaches for the synthesis of hydroxyapatite using sonochemical approach and formation of its composite with PLGA biodegradable polymers. During her first PhD work (at the Faculty of Physical Chemistry, University of Belgrade) she investigated development of novel drug delivery systems. She has been working in encapsulation of antibiotics within biodegradable PLGA/apatite core shell nanostructures and investigated their ability to provide controlled release. During her second PhD work (at the International Postgraduate School of Jožef Stefan Institute) her research was related to the development of innovative nanomaterials with antimicrobial properties. She studied different approaches for designing antimicrobial properties in noble metals (gold, platinum and silver). In this area she patented innovative antimicrobial technology related to functionalization of the gold nanoparticles by amino acids.

Group: Bacterial infections: antimicrobial therapies
Supervisor: Eduard Torrents
Project: Artificial Analogous of Antimicrobial Peptides as Next Generation of Antimicrobials

The proposed project is a cutting-edge research in the area of life science focused at finding efficient alternatives to conventional antibacterial therapy. Bacterial resistance is a serious problem of the modern age. It led to the alarming lack of the effective antibiotics that takes millions of lives per year and clearly highlights an urgent need for more effective therapies. Many currently available antibiotics that are not effective against chronic infections are in fact active against free living, planktonic bacteria, but not against biofilms.

The main aim of the project is a collaborative work in development of new antimicrobial therapy specific for bacteria and biofilms. Interdisciplinary approach that joins materials chemistry, nano- and bio-technology will be used to design artificial analogous of antimicrobial peptides as new generation of antimicrobials. These nanoparticles are capable to »sense« the surface of bacteria, target and disrupt their membrane and provide transport inside them. They will be used as transporters of the antibiotic cargo inside bacteria where they will provide synergetic antimicrobial effect. Antibacterial cargo will include inhibitors of bacterial ribonucleotide reductase (RNR), produced within the Bacterial infections: antimicrobial group at the IBEC, as well as antibiotics which work in free living bacteria. This multi-targeting mechanism has high potential to resolve the fails of standard antimicrobial therapy. Symbiosis of the experience in new antimicrobial therapies of the host group and experience in designing drug delivery systems and nanobiotics of the research fellow will (i) result in new antibacterial therapy and open a new topic in the area of alternative antimicrobial therapies, (ii) enable new knowledge about efficient administration of antimicrobials (iii) establish a very good basis for further collaboration and (iv) enable skills for independent research carrier of the fellow in the future.