Mukoviszidose e.V. is funding a project at Heidelberg University Hospital on the antibacterial effect of certain fatty acids upon the growth of pathogenic germs in the lungs. The aim is to develop new therapeutic approaches and supplement existing treatment options.
DZL scientist Prof. Dr. Alexander Dalpke performs research as Medical Director of the Department of Medical Microbiology and Hygiene at the Center for Infectious Diseases at Heidelberg University Hospital (UKHD). Together with research associate Andrew Tony-Odigie, they are investigating the influence of short-chain fatty acids on the growth of pathogenic bacteria such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa and inflammatory reactions in the lung tissue of cystic fibrosis patients. The project is funded by the Mukoviszidose e.V. with 20,000 Euro.
Patients with cystic fibrosis often suffer from an infection with the bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa. The bacterium is found in moist environments and can lead to a worsening of the lung disease. An important aspect in the research of new therapeutic approaches in cystic fibrosis is the investigation of the mutual influence of pathogenic and harmless to beneficial bacteria in the lung microbiome. Preliminary work by the group has already been carried out at the University Hospital Dresden and has shown that certain species of streptococci that are harmless to humans have an inhibitory effect on Pseudomonas aeruginosa and can even attenuate inflammatory reactions. The mechanism on which this reaction is based is still unclear. The scientists assume that the fatty acids produced by streptococci could have an influence on the pathogenic bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa.
Within the framework of the funded project, the researchers are taking a close look at harmless bacteria and investigating the effect of the fatty acids they produce on pathogenic germs. Finally, the influence of selected fatty acids on the immune response in Pseudomonas infections will be tested and confirmed in a lung tissue model. If successful, new therapeutic options can be developed and the efficacy of existing therapies can be supplemented. The corresponding fatty acids support the microenvironment of the lung in cystic fibrosis, which leads to a strengthened immune system. Furthermore, it can be more challenging for harmful bacteria such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa to infect the lungs.