Infections caused by antibiotic resistant bacteria are becoming increasingly prevalent. Individuals with the genetic disorder Cystic Fibrosis, or CF, are particularly prone to these infections because of their compromised immune status. CF patients develop respiratory infections caused by bacteria such as the pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa.
Unfortunately, this bacterium is becoming highly antibiotic resistant, which limits the treatment options. Despite new CF drugs that improve lung function, P. aeruginosa greatly affects the health of CF patients and new therapeutic options are needed.
Vaccines have revolutionized human health, protecting the population against once feared diseases such as smallpox, polio, or measles. Prevention against infection using vaccines is the strategy that Dr. Mariette Barbier has focused her work upon.
Dr. Barbier is an assistant professor at West Virginia University in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Cell Biology, as well as a member of the nascent Vaccine Development Center at WVU. The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation recently awarded Dr. Barbier a two year research grant to focus on the development of an acellular vaccine to protect against P. aeruginosa infections.
This novel experimental vaccine targets key proteins that P. aeruginosa uses to acquire nutrients from the host it is infecting. Dr. Barbier and her team will continue to develop this vaccine and refine its formulation with the goal to provide a solution that will improve the lives of CF patients and other at-risk populations.