Last updated: Thursday 26 March 2015 at 1am PST 3 Like2
Cystic Fibrosis Infectious Diseases / Bacteria / Viruses Transplants / Organ Donations add your opinionemailAdapted media release
In the genetic disorder cystic fibrosis (CF), the most severe symptoms are recurring episodes of lung inflammation and bacterial infection (known as “exacerbations”) that happen from one to three times a year and cause ever-increasing amounts of lung damage through the course of a CF patient’s life. While it is well understood that CF lung problems are ultimately due to bacterial infections encouraged by a CF patient’s abnormally thick mucus, medical science has been unable to define specific causes that trigger the periodic flare-ups.
In a recent article in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology, lead author Joshua Stokell, a post-doctoral researcher in biology, and a team from University of North Carolina at Charlotte describe an unusual, single-patient study and an important finding that may point to an immediate cause of CF exacerbations. The study found sudden growth of a specific bacterium, Burkholderia multivorans, preceded periods of acute illness. While Burkholderia has been known as a common pathogen in the lungs of CF patients, it is far less abundant than another pathogen, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, whose populations did not show significant changes prior to the life-threatening episodes.
Stokell’s co-authors on the paper are UNC Charlotte biologist Todd Steck and UNC Charlotte bioinformaticians Anthony Fodor, Malcolm Zapata, Raad Gharaibeh and Timothy Hamp.