Enhancing antibiotic treatment of lung infections

Pills in packets

Researchers have demonstrated that the drug PYRRO-C3D breaks down bacteria’s protective biofilm and could improve antibiotic treatment of serious lung infections.

A new study jointly led by Professor Jane Lucas from the NIHR Southampton Respiratory Biomedical Research Unit has found a way to improve the effectiveness of an antibiotic used to treat lung infections in patients with chronic lung conditions.

Their results, published in the journal Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, show that the drug PYRRO-C3D can deliver nitric oxide to the site of infection to break down the protective slime known as a biofilm that surrounds Haemophilus influenza bacteria.

This allows the antibiotic drug to reach and kill the bacteria. That means better treatment of the infection, and also lower risk of antibiotic-resistant superbugs emerging from heavy use of antibiotics.

These results from tests using lung cells grown in the lab hold the promise of better treatment of lung infections for those with chronic lung conditions who are at continual risk of developing them.

Fighting lung infection

The bacteria non-typeable Haemophilus influenza is a major cause of lung infections in patients with chronic lung diseases like cystic fibrosis, primary ciliary dyskinesia (PCD) and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

These infections greatly worsen the impacts of these conditions and are usually treated with a course of antibiotics. However, the bacteria’s protective biofilm shields them from the antibiotic making it less effective and often preventing complete removal of the infection.

PYRRO-C3D works by breaking down the biofilm with nitric oxide, removing this barrier to the antibiotic.

Better antibiotic treatment for all

As well as potentially improving the speed and results of antibiotic treatment for these patients, the approach could help tackle the rise of antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria.

These bacteria, often named ‘superbugs’, cannot be killed with commonly used antibiotics, are a growing threat to health worldwide. This antibiotic resistance threatens to turn the clock back to a time when infections associated with surgery, disease or birth were untreatable and deadly.

Reducing antibiotic use is one of the main ways to prevent antibiotic resistance is to reduce the use of antibiotics. By allowing lower doses to be used, PYRRO-C3D has the potential to do exactly this in these patients frequently receiving antibiotic treatment.

Posted on Monday 9 January 2017