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.