Toward Personalized Treatment of Cystic Fibrosis

Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a debilitating genetic disease that impairs lung function. A major consequence of the disease is establishment of chronic lung infections. Multiple bacterial species cause the infections, and the bacterial populations differ from patient to patient.

Research by School of Biological Sciences Associate Professor Sam Brown aims to understand the dynamics of the bacterial populations – or microbiomes – associated with the disease. The hope is to develop treatments targeting the specific microbiomes of individual patients.

To this end, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has awarded Brown a grant of $300,000 for one year to develop new treatment strategies that are tailored to the individual microbiome profile of a person with cystic fibrosis. Brown is one of 25 investigators to receive funding from CDC as part of the agency’s push to combat antibiotic resistance.

The project – titled “Optimization of Therapeutic Strategies to Manage Polymicrobial CF Lung Infections: Clinical Assessment –will be carried out with co-investigator Arlene Stecenko, a cystic fibrosis expert at Emory University School of Medicine. Brown and Stecenko will track infection microbiomes in a small group of patients. They will monitor the impact of existing antibiotic treatments. They also will explore whether patients who naturally carry candidate “probiotic,” or beneficial, species are more resistant to colonization by notorious pathogens such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus.

“This funding takes us closer to the long-term goal of effective personalized-medicine solutions to improve the lives of people with cystic fibrosis,” says Brown, who is a researcher with the Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience.

Author: 
A. Maureen Rouhi