Well, 10 years is a loooong time in science. If I think back to what I was doing in the laboratory 10 years ago, I can do the same amount in one month (or much less) now than it took me a year to do back then. If we think about our ability to get DNA sequences, when I was studying still, it had taken 15 years to get the sequence of the human genome, and now I hear that the same thing could be done in less than a day!
So another ten years from now, we can imagine huge break-throughs. So bearing this in mind, one thing that I am interested in is I would like to find ways of making antibiotics only kill the bacteria actually causing the infection we are trying to treat.
The problem with antibiotics is that they also kill lots of ‘good’ bacteria, and the ‘good’ bacteria really are like a shield protecting us most of the time, helping to educate our immune systems and helping us process our food. I would like to develop a means by which each bacteria can be targetted, like using laser-sighted missiles. The bacteria could be tagged, and then specially adapted antibiotic molecules would then aim for the tag and become activated, rather than hitting all the good bacteria.
Some scientists have been looking at this kind of thing, but it is still early days….and even if we do develop a good targeting system, we still need more different types of antibiotic medicines, so in the mean time I would like to go out and hunt for interesting plants and insects and environmental bacteria to see if there are any interesting chemical that they produce that could be used as antibiotics.
I would love to look back and say that research I did in the lab on developing better viruses for gene therapy has helped people who are going blind to see better – and that I had helped a few young folk become scientists themselves!