PhD S.A.J. Zaat

Assistant Professor
Main activities
Education, Research
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 Martijn, de Breij Anna, de Boer Leonie, Kwakman Paulus H. S., Cordfunke Robert A., Cohen Or, Malanovic Nermina, Emanuel Noam, Lohner Karl, Drijfhout Jan W., Nibbering Peter H., Zaat Sebastian A. J. Controlled Release of LL-37-Derived Synthetic Antimicrobial and Anti-Biofilm Peptides SAAP-145 and SAAP-276 Prevents Experimental Biomaterial-Associated Staphylococcus aureus Infection Advanced functional materials 2017;27 (20):1606623
  • de Breij Anna, Riool Martijn, Cordfunke Robert A., Malanovic Nermina, de Boer Leonie, Koning Roman I., Ravensbergen Elisabeth, Franken Marnix, van der Heijde Tobias, Boekema Bouke K., Kwakman Paulus H. S., Kamp Niels, El Ghalbzouri Abdelouahab, Lohner Karl, Zaat Sebastian A. J., Drijfhout Jan W., Nibbering Peter H. The antimicrobial peptide SAAP-148 combats drug-resistant bacteria and biofilms Science translational medicine 2018;10 (423):eaan4044 [PubMed]
  • Zhang Xiaolin, Stockhammer Oliver W., de Boer Leonie, Vischer Norbert O. E., Spaink Herman P., Grijpma Dirk W., Zaat Sebastian A. J. The zebrafish embryo as a model to quantify early inflammatory cell responses to biomaterials Journal of biomedical materials research. Part A 2017;105 (9):2522-2532 [PubMed]
  • de Breij A., Riool M., Kwakman P. H. S., de Boer L., Cordfunke R. A., Drijfhout J. W., Cohen O., Emanuel N., Zaat S. A. J., Nibbering P. H., Moriarty T. F. Prevention of Staphylococcus aureus biomaterial-associated infections using a polymer-lipid coating containing the antimicrobial peptide OP-145 Journal of controlled release 2016;222:1-8 [PubMed]
  • Christensen Lise, Breiting Vibeke, Bjarnsholt Thomas, Eickhardt Steffen, Høgdall Estrid, Janssen Martin, Pallua Norbert, Zaat Sebastian A. J. Bacterial Infection as a Likely Cause of Adverse Reactions to Polyacrylamide Hydrogel Fillers in Cosmetic Surgery Clinical infectious diseases 2013;56 (10):1438-1444 [PubMed]
All Publications
Research programmes

PhD S.A.J. Zaat (Biomaterial-associated infections and novel antimicrobial strategies)

This research line comprises the following consortium programs:


PhD M. Riool
X. Zhang

PhD Students
S. Omardien
R. Pasman

BEng L. de Boer

Current research funding
  • AO-Forschungsinstitut
  • Europese Unie