Sign in: Staff/Students
Researchers at the University of Liverpool’s Institute of Infection and Global Health have discovered the pattern of infection of the bacterium responsible for causing severe lung infections in people with cystic fibrosis.
Pseudomonas aeruginosa is usually harmless to humans, but in people with cystic fibrosis (CF) or who have weakened immune systems – such as those who have had an operation or treatment for cancer – it can cause infections that are resistant to antibiotics. In CF patients in particular, infections can be impossible to eradicate from the lungs.
Newly developed model
The team from the University made their discovery by studying the bacteria in a newly developed model, which closely reflected the human disease condition. By using this model, they showed for the first time that Pseudomonas aeruginosa colonised the nasopharynx – the part of the body which connects the back of the nose to the back of the mouth – long term and then subsequently migrated down into the lungs to cause chronic infection.
Immunologist Dr Dan Neill, who is the other first author added: “This finding may explain why patients often suffer from recurrent infections with the same bacterial strain as continual re-infection of the lungs from the upper airways can take place.”
The researchers found that Pseudomonas aeruginosa adapts while in the nasopharynx, and following this adaptation process travels to infect areas such as the lungs, which people with lung conditions find hard to prevent.
More effective treatment
Previous studies have focused only on the lungs, so this new understanding of how the bacteria establishes infection in the upper respiratory tract prior to development of chronic lung infection provides a perfect new opportunity for more effective development of treatments at the initial site of infection.
Professors Aras Kadioglu and Craig Winstanley were the senior authors who led the study. Professor Kadioglu said: “A better understanding of the way these bacteria colonise and adapt to the human body provides important new information about how we might prevent this process in more vulnerable people.”
“It is clear that antibiotics are not an effective treatment for these infections once established in the lung, so something else needs to be developed urgently, and targeting the infection at the site of entry before chronic infection develops is one way forward.”
Dr Fothergill is funded by the Leverhulme Trust, Dr Neill is funded by the Institute of Infection & Global Health. The paper ’Pseudomonas aeruginosa adaptation in the nasopharyngeal reservoir leads to migration and persistence in the lungs’ was published in the journal Nature Communications.
Find out more about courses in the Institute of Infection and Global Health on the University’s Study pages or follow the Institute on Twitter.
You must be logged in to post a comment.
All recent news
Experiment to study muscle ageing heading to space
University and BSAVA PetSavers launch Ageing Canine Toolkit
The Windsor Framework: Paving the way towards or away from the abyss?
University joins new network to boost technical capability and capacity
Money mule scam: How to protect yourself
A new exhibition featuring a selection of iconic posters used to promote @cunardline services in the 1920s & 1930s to open at our @VictoriaGallery.
Find out more➡️https://bit.ly/3TsCSKO
Congratulations to Prof Paula Williamson (@prw_paula) and the @COMETinitiative team, who have been awarded the inaugural @The_MRC Open Science Impact Prize in recognition of their globally impactful work helping to improve the relevance of clinical trials: https://news.liverpool.ac.uk/2023/03/16/mrc-impact-prize-for-initiative-helping-to-improve-the-relevance-of-clinical-trials/
"Everybody should have the basic digital skills and confidence to safely engage with an increasingly digital world." Read about the work Prof @sjyates has been leading to propose a Minimum Digital Living Standard (MDLS) for UK households ➡️ http://bit.ly/3TfnXDQ