Our research into bronchiectasis and PCD
Last month we visited Professor Jane Davies and her team at Imperial College London. The team is researching bacteria found in the lungs of people with bronchiectasis and primary ciliary dyskinesia (PCD). Jane tells us about their exciting research.
Bacteria are everywhere. With every breath taken, they enter our lungs, but harmful bacteria are removed by our body’s natural defences. In people with lung conditions such as bronchiectasis and PCD, their defences aren’t functioning properly. This can lead to inflammation and irreversible lung damage.
We’re now beginning to discover why this could be. Biofilms. Biofilms are structures built by bacteria to protect themselves against our natural defences. The bacteria are able to huddle together, forming a ‘protection blanket’ which stops our natural defences or antibiotics from removing them from our body.
In the early stages of bronchiectasis and PCD, most of the bacteria infecting the lungs are treatable with antibiotics. But over time, the antibiotics stop working. We suspect this may because bacteria create biofilms.
Our research is looking at lung samples from children with bronchiectasis and PCD. With the help of a grant from the British Lung Foundation, we’ve been able to purchase a machine that detect biofilms in the laboratory. This means that we'll be able to test what treatments can effectively break them down.
In the short term, we’ll be able to better understand biofilms so we can treat them better and sooner. In the long term, we hope that our research will help create new drugs for bronchiectasis or PCD which will stop the need for antibiotics altogether.
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