Dr. S.A.J. Zaat

Scientific staff member (UD)
Main activities
Research, Teaching
Biomaterial-associated infections and novel antimicrobial strategies
Focus of research
Biomaterial-associated infections and novel antimicrobial strategies

Biomaterial-associated infections. Infections of biomedical devices, or “biomaterials” (catheters, prosthetic heart valves, implants), are a major and increasing problem in modern medicine, especially in view of the increase in antibiotic resistance. We have discovered that bacteria do not only colonize the medical device by biofilm-formation, but also persist in surrounding tissue, due to disturbed local immunity. Bacterial, biomaterial, and host-responses involved in the pathogenesis are subject of studies, in order to find novel approaches for treatment and prevention. In the NANTICO (Non-adherent ANTImicrobial Coatings) consortium project different antimicrobial coating strategies have been developed to prevent infection. In the IBIZA (Imaging of Biomaterial-associated Infection using Zebrafish Analysis) a novel model for testing new biomaterials is being developed, and in the BALI (Biofilm Alliance) EU FP7 project we develop novel Synthetic Antimicrobial Antibiofilm Peptides for controlled release coatings to prevent infection of  titanium implants.
Novel antimicrobial strategies. The increase in antibiotic resistance necessitates investigations into novel antimicrobial strategies. For this we study cationic antimicrobial proteins and peptides (AMP) and natural sources such as medical grade honey. We have identified thrombocidins as the major AMP of human blood platelets, and have designed novel SAAPs (see above) based on their structure. The mechanism of action of these SAAPs is studied in depth, and they are utilized for a variety of translational research projects. Honey has been used as an antimicrobial agent since ancient times. We have fully characterized the antimicrobial components of one medicinal honey and are investigating the components responsible for the antimicrobial activity of a large collection of monofloral honeys in order to identify novel antimicrobials, in order to provide additional solutions for the major problem of antibiotic resistance. 

Key publications
  • Riool M, de Breij A, de Boer L, Kwakman PHS, Cordfunke RA, Cohen O, Malanovic N, Emanuel N, Lohner K, Drijfhout JW, Nibbering PH, Zaat SAJ, Controlled Release of LL-37-Derived Synthetic Antimicrobial and Anti-Biofilm Peptides SAAP-145 and SAAP-276 Prevents Experimental Biomaterial-Associated Staphylococcus aureus Infection. ADV FUNCT MATER 2017;27 (20):1606623
  • de Breij A, Riool M, Cordfunke RA, Malanovic N, de Boer L, Koning RI, Ravensbergen E, Franken M, van der Heijde T, Boekema BK, Kwakman PHS, Kamp N, El Ghalbzouri A, Lohner K, Zaat SAJ, Drijfhout JW, Nibbering PH, The antimicrobial peptide SAAP-148 combats drug-resistant bacteria and biofilms. SCI TRANSL MED 2018;10 (423):eaan4044 [PubMed]
  • Zhang X, Stockhammer OW, de Boer L, Vischer NOE, Spaink HP, Grijpma DW, Zaat SAJ, The zebrafish embryo as a model to quantify early inflammatory cell responses to biomaterials. J BIOMED MATER RES A 2017;105 (9):2522-2532 [PubMed]
  • de Breij A, Riool M, Kwakman PHS, de Boer L, Cordfunke RA, Drijfhout JW, Cohen O, Emanuel N, Zaat SAJ, Nibbering PH, Moriarty TF, Prevention of Staphylococcus aureus biomaterial-associated infections using a polymer-lipid coating containing the antimicrobial peptide OP-145. J CONTROL RELEASE 2016;222:1-8 [PubMed]
  • Christensen L, Breiting V, Bjarnsholt T, Eickhardt S, Høgdall E, Janssen M, Pallua N, Zaat SAJ, Bacterial Infection as a Likely Cause of Adverse Reactions to Polyacrylamide Hydrogel Fillers in Cosmetic Surgery. CLIN INFECT DIS 2013;56 (10):1438-1444 [PubMed]
All Publications
Research programmes

Biomaterial-associated infections and novel antimicrobial strategies

This research line comprises the following consortium programs:


Dr. S.A.J. Zaat

Dr. M. Riool

PhD Students
Drs. P.P.S. Balraadjsing
C. Diedrich MD
C.M. Guarch Perez
M.I. Hofstee MSc (AO Foundation Research Institute Davos)
Drs. K.W.J. Verhorstert MD (AMR)
Drs. S. Omardien (UvA)

Ing. L. de Boer

Current research funding
  • AO-Forschungsinstitut
  • BiosparQ B.V.
  • Europese Unie
  • NWO
  • Rijksdienst voor Ondernemend Nederland
  • ZonMw