Gallium for Cystic Fibrosis Lung Infections

Gallium is a molecule very similar to iron that interrupts iron-dependent biological processes and has been shown to kill antibiotic-resistant strains of Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Intravenous (IV) use of gallium has been approved by the FDA for diagnostic purposes, and the molecule is being studied for its safety and effectiveness in controlling P. aeruginosa in people with cystic fibrosis (CF).

How gallium may be able to treat CF lung infections

The gallium ion is chemically similar to iron. It substitutes iron ions and inhibits bacterial processes that are iron-dependent. One of the processes that gallium alters is the formation of biofilms, which are structures resistant to antibiotics and host immunity.

Gallium has been shown to increase the effectiveness of antibiotics and to have antimicrobial activity itself.

In vitro testing showed that gallium inhibits P. aeruginosa growth and biofilm formation, and also kills planktonic and biofilm bacteria. Gallium works by decreasing bacterial iron uptake and by interfering with iron signaling.

Gallium studies in cystic fibrosis

In murine lung infection models, gallium was seen to be effective.

A Phase 1 study of the safety, tolerability, and drug properties of intravenous gallium nitrate (Ganite) in people with CF is currently ongoing (NCT01093521) at the University of Washington.

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