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CU-Boulder technology used to identify unexpected bacteria in cystic fibrosis patients
Date:12/3/2007

Molecular technology developed by a University of Colorado at Boulder professor to probe extreme life forms in undersea hydrothermal vents has been used to identify unexpected bacteria strains in the lung fluid of Denver children suffering from cystic fibrosis, findings that may lead to more effective therapies.

Instead of standard culturing techniques, researchers used nucleic acid gene sequencing to rapidly detect, identify and classify pathogens found in the lungs of cystic fibrosis sufferers, said CU-Boulder Professor Norman Pace, who pioneered the method in the 1990s using microbes from Pacific Ocean hydrothermal vents. Pace and his colleagues at CU-Denver's Health Sciences Center and Denver's Children's Hospital identified more than 60 species of bacteria in samples of 28 cystic fibrosis patients in Denver. Thirteen samples contained bacteria that are not routinely assessed by culturing.

The presence of the unexpected bacteria may help explain cases of unidentified lung inflammation and the consequent failure of patients -- primarily children -- to respond to standard treatments, said Pace. "The results show molecular sequencing is a more effective, faster and far less expensive way to assess airway bacteria than routine clinical cultures and better identifies targets for further clinical evaluation," said Pace.

Cystic fibrosis, a life-threatening genetic disease affecting about 30,000 people in the United States, is marked by a build-up of mucus in the lungs and pancreas that can clog organs, according to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. In addition to causing difficulty breathing, the thick mucus acts as a breeding ground for bacteria in the lungs that causes swelling, inflammation and infections that can lead to lung damage. Most deaths from cystic fibrosis are caused by such infections, said Pace.

A paper on the subject was published the week of Dec. 3 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Co-
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Contact: Norman Pace
norman.pace@colorado.edu
303-735-1808
University of Colorado at Boulder
Source:Eurekalert

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