Lottery funding to aid research into superbugs

January 28, 2005

A consortium of UK scientists and clinicians is to begin new research to tackle the problem of lung infection amongst Cystic Fibrosis (CF) sufferers. Led by Professor John Govan at the Centre for Infectious Diseases, University of Edinburgh, the experts aim to find new ways to combat the bacterial lung infections which eventually cause the death of 90% of those with CF. The work has been made possible by a £509,759 grant from the Big Lottery Fund to the Cystic Fibrosis Trust.

At present, CF patients are often kept apart from others with the same condition for fear of the spread of life-threatening lung infections. This means that many patients are forced to live in isolation and unable to share their experiences with other CF sufferers.

The scientists will investigate the spread of 'superbugs' and aim to improve speed and accuracy of diagnosis and treatment of respiratory infections. This will lead to a better understanding of when segregation of CF patients is really necessary. Researchers will also identify and develop more effective antimicrobial agents and vaccine strategies to treat lung infections.

Professor Govan, who will work with colleagues at the Universities of Edinburgh, Liverpool, Belfast and Cardiff and the Health Protection Agency in London, said: "The prompt and appropriate use of antibiotics to control lung infections is essential to increase the quality of life and survival of individuals with CF. We are faced, however, with two serious challenges namely, increasing resistance to antibiotics in well known pathogens, such as MRSA, and increasing virulence and transmissibility in inherently resistant environmental bacteria, such as Pseudomonas and Burkholderia .While segregating CF patients to prevent infection does help to contain the problem, it also places considerable social and personal strain on families and individuals who are denied the friendship and support of others with the same illness. We hope that this three year collaborative research programme, employing state-of-the-art microbiology, will bring major benefits to the CF community."

University of Edinburgh

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