New antimicrobial strategies to combat cystic fibrosis
IBEC, Institute of Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC, Instituto de Bioingeniería de Cataluña), Barcelona, Spain
Cystic fibrosis (CF) is an autosomal recessive illness, classified as a rare disease despite being the most common among people of European descent. In Spain, some 2,500 people suffer from CF. It is a multi-systemic disorder that essentially affects the lungs, intestines, pancreas and liver. Patients’ average life expectancy is around 35-40 years.
All CF sufferers present respiratory failure, primarily as a consequence of chronic bacterial colonisation of the lungs in the form of biofilms. The treatment of chronic and acute infections consists in the administration of antibiotics. However, there are many patients who do not respond to antibiotic treatment, and in whom it is practically impossible to eradicate these infections.
The project has enabled the development of new in vitro models of bacterial cocultures with human cells simulating the conditions of the biofilms, which allows evaluation of the potential efficacy of antibacterial strategies. In parallel, new antimicrobial strategies have been developed using nanoparticles to disintegrate the bacterial biofilms, with their efficacy being assessed using the new biofilm models. The results obtained open the doors to the development of more effective antibacterial therapies against pulmonary infections in patients with CF.