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Presentation Time: 4:50-5:10
Home University: North Carolina Central University
Research Mentor: Aaron Anselmo, Pharmaceutical sciences
Program: M&I-HBCU SROP
Research Title: Improving bacterial attachment to the skin

Therapeutic bacteria have recently received attention as a method to increase the health of the skin, as well as treat certain skin conditions like acne. However, therapeutic bacteria cannot colonize the skin in their natural state. To address this, we have developed a method to modify both the skin and the bacteria with complementary chemical groups that click together to improve bacterial attachment. Specifically, we conjugated azide to the bacterial surface and DBCO to the skin using NHS ester chemistry, which reacts with primary amines on both surfaces. First, we confirmed these modifications can successfully be applied to live bacteria using amine-coated 24 well plates. We analyzed bacterial attachment with microscopy and showed significantly increased attachment relative to controls. Next, we developed an ex vivo pig skin model to show that the skin can be successfully modified with DBCO. Finally, we used live human epidermal keratinocytes (HEKa) to see how the bacteria would attach to live cells. Data showed successful modification of the cells, as well as an increase in bacterial attachment after azide modification. Future work will analyze the viability of HEKa cells following bacterial attachment, as well as in vivo testing in a mouse model. This work demonstrates that bacteria and skin can be successfully modified to improve attachment, potentially enabling the use of therapeutic bacteria as a treatment for various skin conditions.