Research Public Lecture | Can we eradicate ‘ superbug’ infections using light? | Dr Leon Leanse

Monday 25th April 2022, 18:00-19:30
Book your free space

Date: Monday 25th April
Time: 18:00 – 19:30
Location: Conference Hall, Europa Point Campus

Join us on campus for a public lecture delivered by the University of Gibraltar’s Research Office. This lecture, titled ‘Can we eradicate ‘superbug’ infections using light?’, will be presented by Dr Leon Leanse, who is an Instructor in Dermatology at Harvard Medical School working through the Wellman Center for Photomedicine at the Massachusetts General Hospital.

Infectious diseases are ranked among the most significant causes of death worldwide, with a lack of appropriate diagnosis and treatment being responsible for up to 95% of poor outcomes. Diagnosis of infectious diseases often requires tissue isolation/swabbing which, when coupled with long culture times (or molecular detection), may take hours or even days to reveal the cause of the infection. As a result, clinicians often prescribe broad-spectrum antibiotics, to reduce the possibility of invasive disease in patients. This precautionary overuse of antibiotics has resulted in the development of multidrug-resistant microbes, which are often referred to as ‘superbugs’. These ‘superbugs’ have compromised the overall effectiveness of traditional antibiotics. In has been estimated by the World Health Organization (WHO) that by 2050, more deaths will arise because of antimicrobial resistance than cancer, demonstrating the urgent need for innovative therapeutic strategies. In response to this urgent need to combat antimicrobial resistance, innovative, non-antibiotic techniques that are photonics based (light-based) are emerging as a strategy to increase the efficiency of therapeutic methods. Examples include antimicrobial photodynamic therapy, antimicrobial blue light, and ultraviolet C radiation. What is of particular importance is that these technologies can eliminate ‘superbugs’ rapidly and non-invasively, and it has been suggested that resistance development to these light-based approaches is unlikely. The goal of this lecture is to introduce antimicrobial resistance, highlight the associated challenges and possible solutions, and introduce light as an alternative strategy to cure infections, both as an independent treatment method and as a complementary therapy to traditional antibiotics.

About the speaker

Dr Leon Leanse was born in 1988 in Gibraltar. Following completion of a Biomedical Sciences degree, he attended the London School of Hygiene and Tropical medicine where he was awarded an MSc in Medical Microbiology. In 2017, he completed his PhD degree in Molecular Microbiology from Imperial College London. He was swiftly recruited for a Postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard Medical School (HMS), working through the Wellman Center for Photomedicine at the Massachusetts General Hospital. In 2021, he was promoted to Faculty at the rank of instructor. His research area of expertise is developing novel approaches for the treatment of infectious diseases. Specifically, he is exploiting the use of light and lasers to treat infections caused by multidrug-resistant (MDR) ‘superbug’ infections.

Book your free space