Susceptibility to infection: How do bacteria and viruses manage to remain in the body?

Some pathogenic bacteria or viruses take hold in the human body: they persist in sites including the lung, liver or on implants. Chronic infections of this nature represent significant medical challenges, as for example in people who suffer from cystic fibrosis. Biofilms form in their lungs; these are well organized communities with other microorganisms that protect them from the body’s immune defences and from antibiotics.

They are home to numerous Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria, which cause pneumonia and ultimately compromise the lives of those affected. Dental and other implants, too, may be colonized by biofilms consisting of many different bacteria.

But how can the bacteria living in biofilms survive, and why are they so resistant to therapeutic agents? What part does the immune system play in this? Why are these infections mild in some people but severe in others? What connection is there with the human microbiome? The RESIST team will look at the underling mechanisms – so that the severity of an infection can be gauged and antibiotic tolerance predicted, and to discover drugs that can target the bacteria.

Projects in Area C (bacterias)

C1

Biofilm profiling: How can a precise characterisation of microbial communities result in the development of new strategies against biofilm-associated infections?

Bacteria in biofilms are embedded in a self-produced extracellular matrix and exhibit an increased resistance to adverse conditions. In the human host, biofilm bacteria are responsible for persistent infections and efficiently withstand antibiotic treatment and the host immune response…

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C2

Biofilm formation: Which individual human factors favour the formation of Biofilms?

Implant-associated infections represent a serious health burden in the clinics. They are the consequence of microorganisms that are able to colonize biological surfaces or surfaces of indwelling medical devices, and to form biofilms there. Biofilms are communities of microorganisms attached to such hydrated interfaces and enclosed in self-produced extracellular Matrices…

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C3

Chronic lung diseases: How can we affect bacterial communities?

All mammals are inhabited by communities of microorganisms. These commensal communities, the microbiome, make vital contributions to the normal shape and function of the body by supporting energy homeostasis, metabolism, immunologic activity, and (neuro)development. An essential function of the microbiome is to protect outer surface epithelia (e.g. the lung epithelium) from pathogenic intruders…

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