Scientists to develop ‘radically different’ treatment for drug-resistant lung infections

A new European consortium research project aiming to develop novel treatments against drug-resistant bacterial respiratory infections is underway at the University of Liverpool.

Funded by Horizon 2020, the €3.5 million ‘Light4Lungs’ project focuses on the treatment of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in chronic lung infections, which are the leading cause of illness and death in patients with diseases such as cystic fibrosis and hospital-acquired lung infections.

The aim is to develop a novel therapeutic strategy for the treatment of AMR infections using targeted photodynamic therapy (PDT), which uses the combined action of light, oxygen and a photosensitive organic compound to destroy antibiotic resistant bacterial cells.

The interdisciplinary project brings together partners from the UK, Spain, Italy and France, combining state-of-the art aerosol drug delivery science with expertise in materials and physical chemistry, photophysics, pharmaceutics, photobiology, microbiology and in vivo infection modelling.

Research will involve the novel development of inhalable luminescent nanoparticles, the method for delivery to the lungs, and evaluation of the treatment parameters in relevant clinical models.

Professor Aras Kadioglu will lead the University of Liverpool part of the consortium with colleagues Professor Craig Winstanley and Dr Daniel Neill.

Professor Kadioglu said: “This is a unique project which brings together very different areas of expertise to focus on a highly important clinical problem.

“We all know that AMR is a significant issue, however while most efforts are focused on discovering new antibiotic based treatments, in this project, we have been funded to develop something radically different; a new technology that will use photodynamic treatment methods to kill drug-resistant respiratory pathogens such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

“It is a very exciting project to be part of and one that brings together scientists across Europe in a common purpose.”

Professor Craig Winstanley added: “Current options for the treatment of chronic lung infections in patients with conditions such as cystic fibrosis and bronchiectasis are limited and often ineffective. There is an urgent need to develop new therapeutic approaches. This project will test the potential of a novel strategy to counter these severe infections.”

The four-year ‘Inhalable aerosol light source for controlling drug resistant bacterial lung infections’ (Light4Lungs) project is funded by the European Commission Horizon 2020 FET Open call on ‘Novel ideas for radically new technologies.’

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