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Dr Nibras Khamees has passed his PhD viva

Passes viva

Dr Nibras Khamees passes his PhD viva

31 January 2018

Dr Nibras Khamees has passed his PhD viva on 30 January 2018. His thesis was entitled ‘The Role of Human Bone Marrow-Derived Mesenchymal Stem Cells in Osteomyelitis’. Nibras was co-supervised by Dr's Wael Kafienah and Darryl Hill.

Infection of the bone or osteomyelitis (OM) is a challenging infection to eliminate due to the protected niche of bone, coupled with the challenges of bacterial adaptation rendering many antimicrobials ineffective. Most mechanistic studies have focused on the interactions between bacterial virulence factors and bone making cells (osteoblasts) to understand the pathogenesis of OM. The niche also contains mesenchymal stem cell (MSC), the osteoblast precursors that have vast functions in modulating the immunology and antiseptic environment of bone. The aim of Nibras's thesis was to identify the role of MSCs in OM by investigating their molecular interaction with the bacterial pathogen Staphylococcus aureus, the impact of bacterial infection on the functional properties of MSCs and testing the therapeutic potential of MSCs in a cellular model of osteomyelitis.

Dr Kafienah, a Senior Lecturer in Stem Cell Biology, said "Elucidating the interaction between stem cells and infectious agents provides a paradigm shift in our understanding of infectious diseases. These cells, with their important regenerative capacity, have been overlooked in this context. Nibras's work provides novel insights into the pathogenesis of OM and paves the way to pursue a cellular therapy for chronic OM".

Dr Darryl Hill, a Senior Lecturer in Molecular Microbiology, said "The collaborative study offered a fascinating insight into what happens when stem cells, capable of differentiating down many different pathways, interact with a bacterial pathogen which acts as a master of cellular manipulation. The knowledge gained through Nibras’s work has provided some exciting possibilities for novel treatments for osteomyelitis and other chronic bacterial infections.”

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