Cystic fibrosis treatment hope
Personalised antibiotic treatments could be developed for patients with cystic fibrosis, university researchers have said.
The debilitating disease is one of the most common inherited life-threatening conditions and affects more than 10,000 people in the UK. It affects the internal organs, especially the lungs and digestive system, by clogging them with thick sticky mucus which makes it hard to breathe and digest food.
Work undertaken at Queens University Belfast could revolutionise antibiotic prescription and limit resistance to treatment drugs globally, lead researcher Professor Stuart Elborn said.
"The overall impact will be to determine if all bacteria present contribute significantly to lung infection in cystic fibrosis patients and subsequently identify the most effective antibiotic treatment for patients infected with these bacteria," he said.
When patients have a flare-up of the serious condition they are treated with several antibiotics which are not always effective and can lead to antibiotic resistance. The research will identify all bacteria present to determine what drugs should be used for individual patients.
The study brings together doctors and scientists from 12 academic institutions and hospitals across Europe and the US, among them University College Cork in the Irish Republic. It will involve trials with 252 patients in seven countries, including around 40 in Northern Ireland.
A team of scientists from Queen's Centre for Infection and Immunity will collaborate with experts from the NHS.
Dr Damian Downey, co-director of the Regional Adult Cystic Fibrosis Centre in Belfast, said the study would investigate the use of directed antibiotic therapies.
"The aim of a more focused treatment plan is to limit the damage that occurs to the lung."