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Cystic Fibrosis Research in Tallaght

The Research Issue:

People with CF typically endure chronic lung disease which damages their lungs, impacting on their quality of life and their lifespan. Such an infection, when caused by the Burkholderia cepacia complex (Bcc) bacterium, is never eradicated. It is particularly resistant to antibiotics and  transmitted easily between patients.  Given the high levels of antibiotic resistance of Bcc, a vaccine that prevents infection may represent a better treatment model than antibiotic therapy.  Although there are two vaccines in human  trials for another CF associated pathogen i.e., P. aeruginosa, no vaccine exists to protect CF patients or other susceptible populations against Bcc, making it even more difficult to treat.  

What happened next:

Following six year’s work, the research team identified two proteins that play a key role in the Bcc infection process. Pilot tests have successfully protected mice from infection when used individually as vaccine antigens in immunisation studies, which may now be commercialised.

ITTallaght's activity to solve the issue:

ITT’s Centre of Microbial Host Interactions is conducting a research project which has the potential to commercialise a vaccine to prevent infection from a highly antibiotic resistant bacteria that cause chronic infections in people with cystic fibrosis.  They are now also applying this technology platform to other antibiotic resistant pathogens for which there are no vaccines available to identify new vaccine antigens for other life-threatening lung infections.

The Benefits to the Company and the Community:

The research collaboration between ITT and other third level institutes, will result in a comprehensive feasibility report, including market analysis, routes to commercial exploitation and clarity regarding the relevant regulatory barriers to commercialisation. This represents a huge step forward for the protection of all CF patients or those who have acquired chronic granulomatous disease (CGD) as they are also colonised with this virulent anti-microbially resistant pathogen. 

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