Hutch News

Fredricks Lab wins innovation award

Technology prize allows study of vaginal bacterial strains

Sept. 27, 2010
Dr. Laura Sycuro

Dr. Laura Sycuro, a postdoctoral research fellow in the Fredricks Lab, authored the winning BioFlux Innovation Award submission. The new technology will enable Fredricks’ group to further elucidate the molecular mechanisms of bacterial vaginosis.

Photo by Dean Forbes

The Vaccine and Infectious Disease Division’s Fredricks Lab has won a BioFlux Innovation Award. Dr. Laura Sycuro, a postdoctoral research fellow in the lab, authored the winning submission which focuses on screening characterizing bacterial strains that form multicellular communities, also known as biofilms, during infections that affect women’s reproductive health.

The Fluxion Biosciences-sponsored competition awarded a BioFlux 200 system (worth $30,000 as configured) to Sycuro and colleagues for their proposed studies. The technology will enable Fredricks’ group to further elucidate the molecular mechanisms of bacterial vaginosis, a common infection in women.

The research team will study more than 200 vaginal bacterial strains obtained from the National Institutes of Health-sponsored Human Microbiome Project. Cell culture models will be developed to study these strains in vitro for the first time under controlled shear flow. The BioFlux system will allow the researchers to experimentally vary the species composition, order in which species are introduced, and environmental conditions in an effort to determine which are critical for biofilm formation.

The group hopes to learn how bacteria associated with vaginosis form drug-resistant biofilms and contribute to serious women’s health problems like inflammation and infection of the cervix and pre-term labor.

“Ultimately, we anticipate using the BioFlux device to test the ability of novel drug compounds to disrupt these biofilms and more effectively treat bacterial vaginosis,” Sycuro said.

[Adapted from a Fluxion Biosciences news release]

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