Cystic Fibrosis Expert Says Antibacterial Resistance a Growing Concern

Patrícia Silva, PhD avatar

by Patrícia Silva, PhD |

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antibiotics and bacteria
Dr. Stuart Elborn

Dr. Stuart Elborn

When it comes to formulating new and improved antibacterial treatments, scientists are in a race against the time it takes for today’s bacteria to mutate into more harmful, resistant strains. Even with today’s technology and advanced research practices, emerging pharmaceutical treatments can take as long as 10 years to be deemed safe enough for commercial approval. Resistant bacteria is particularly concerning among cystic fibrosis experts, as the disease already predisposes CF patients to respiratory infection, which can become difficult to treat and clear from pulmonary structures.

Internationally acclaimed CF experts from Queen’s University Belfast recently came together to raise awareness on antibacterial resistance and urge the world’s researchers to devote more effort to minimizing its occurrence, if not completely prevent it all together.

One of these CF experts is Professor Stuart Elborn, who is the Dean of the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences at Queen’s University. According to Dr. Elborn, there is a great unmet need for more research and funding in the study of antibiotic resistance. Although resistant bacteria do not adapt to antibiotics alone, antibiotic resistance is still growing unchecked, and may pose a fatal problem in the coming years. Any developments and new insights into this health care concern would be essential in dramatically improving CF patient outcomes.

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Elborn believes that the solution lies not just in formulating new antibiotic treatments, but also in developing compounds that can enhance the properties of currently available products. More research is also needed in potential drug combinations that can work around resistant bacteria.

Opportunistic infections are one of the primary concerns in CF patients, which is why many were hesitant to receive a live-attenuated flu vaccine via nasal administration. However, a recent study on pediatric patients revealed that they were able to tolerate the vaccine with only minor respiratory reactions. According to the researchers, the risks associated with an acquired respiratory infection outweigh the those associated with a flu vaccine.