A new treatment for antibiotic resistant bacteria and infectious disease

March 31, 2017, University of Birmingham
Pseudomonas bacteria. Credit: Janice Haney Carr

A study, published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, describes a new treatment pathway for antibiotic resistant bacteria and infectious diseases with benefits for patients and health care providers.

Researchers from the University of Birmingham and Newcastle University found that the unusual approach of removing antibodies from the blood stream reduced the effects of chronic infections, the requirement for days spent in hospital and the use of .

In this study, the team identified two with bronchiectasis who suffered with chronic Pseudomonas aeruginosa infections that were resistant to many antibiotics; a 64-year-old male, diagnosed with bronchiectasis aged fifteen, and a 69-year-old female who had bronchiectasis from childhood.

Bronchiectasis is a that leads to permanent enlargement of the airways in the lung and affects over 300,000 patients in the UK. Symptoms are debilitating for patients, and typically include a chronic cough, shortness of breath, coughing up blood, and chest pain. Bronchiectasis often affects patients beyond the age at which lung transplantation is possible.

Chronic Pseudomonas aeruginosa lung infections commonly occur in patients suffering from bronchiectasis. Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a common bacterium that can cause disease and is known as a multidrug resistant pathogen, recognised for its advanced antibiotic resistance mechanisms and association with serious illnesses.

The patients volunteered to be part of an explorative treatment that built on previous findings from the research group in 2014.

Professor Ian Henderson, Director of the Institute of Microbiology and Infection at the University of Birmingham, explained:

"These patients had an excess of a particular antibody in the bloodstream. In contrast to the protective effect normally associated with antibody, in these patients the antibody stopped the immune system killing the Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacterium and this worsened the patients' lung disease. Perhaps counter-intuitively, we decided to remove this antibody from the bloodstream and the outcomes were wholly positive."

Dr Tony De Soyza, Bronchiectasis service lead, Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals Trust and Senior Lecturer at Newcastle University, explained:

"We needed a brand new way of tackling this problem. Working with kidney and immunology experts, we used a process known as plasmapheresis that is somewhat like kidney dialysis. The plasmapheresis involved the removal, treatment, and return of blood plasma from circulation, and was done 5 times in a week in order to remove antibody from the patients. We then replaced with those from blood donations. This treatment restored the ability for the patients' blood to kill their infecting Pseudomonas."

Both patients reported a rapid improvement in health and wellbeing, greater independence and improved mobility compared to any point in the previous two years.

Professor Henderson added: "This shows that we can improve patient wellbeing significantly, by reducing the need for treatment and the numbers of days spent in hospital, which will also help to reduce the reliance on antibiotics. The next step is to do longer term studies to investigate whether an earlier intervention, with slightly less aggressive therapies, could help prevent disease progression in patients."

This is the first description of antibody-dependent enhancement of bacterial disease. It may be widely applicable to other bacterial infections and offers hope for the of some antibiotic resistant infections.

Explore further: Sugary bugs subvert antibodies

Related Stories

Sugary bugs subvert antibodies

August 11, 2014
A lung-damaging bacterium turns the body's antibody response in its favor, according to a study published in The Journal of Experimental Medicine.

Breakthrough could give new hope to sufferers of Cystic Fibrosis

August 12, 2014
Cystic Fibrosis is a devastating genetic disease which afflicts over 10,000 children across the country. The disease results in a declining lung function, which in turn leads to a higher likelihood of developing lung infections. ...

'Dickensian' lung disease rates on the rise in UK pensioners

November 5, 2015
The number of people diagnosed with bronchiectasis, a lung condition thought to be a 'disease of the past', has risen considerably in the past decade and now affects more than 1% of UK pensioners, finds a new study by UCL, ...

Statins could ease coughing in lung disease patients, study finds

March 24, 2014
Common cholesterol-lowering drugs could provide relief to patients suffering from a chronic lung disease, a study has shown.

Recommended for you

Tibetan sheep highly susceptible to human plague, originates from marmots

August 16, 2018
In the Qinghai-Tibet plateau, one of the region's highest risk areas for human plague, Himalayan marmots are the primary carriers of the infectious bacterium Y. pestis. Y. pestis infection can be transmitted to humans and ...

Autoimmunity plays role in development of COPD, study finds

August 16, 2018
Autoimmunity plays a role in the development of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), according to a study led by Georgia State University and Vanderbilt University Medical Center that analyzed human genome information ...

Reliable point-of-care blood test can help prevent toxoplasmosis

August 16, 2018
A recent study, performed in Chicago and Rabat, Morocco, found that a novel finger-prick test for infection with the parasite Toxoplasma gondii during pregnancy—and many other potential applications—is 100 percent sensitive ...

Scientists identify nearly 200 potential tuberculosis drug targets

August 16, 2018
Tuberculosis is one of the top 10 causes of death worldwide. Nearly 2 million people die every year from this infectious disease, and an estimated 2 billion people are chronically infected. The only vaccine, developed almost ...

First mouse model to mimic lung disease could speed discovery of more effective treatments

August 16, 2018
The biggest hurdle to finding effective therapies for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) – a life-threatening condition in which the lungs become scarred and breathing is increasingly difficult – has been the inability ...

Anticancer drug offers potential alternative to transplant for patients with liver failure

August 15, 2018
Patients suffering sudden liver failure could in the future benefit from a new treatment that could reduce the need for transplants, research published today shows.

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Dug
not rated yet Mar 31, 2017
Or, its those mysterious blood factors that keep producing the anti-aging in mice parabiosis studies. Essentially, removing factors that limit senescence in old blood streams and replacing it with factors that encourage cell reactivation and or new stem cell production.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.