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Treatment of Bacterial Infection Paves the Way to Treat CF Infection

family, Mougous wondered whether the Pseudomonas Hcp1 might also be secreted via this pathway. The Harvard and Argonne researchers quickly formed a collaboration and confirmed the hypothesis.

They then turned their attention to Hcp1 in cystic fibrosis patients to gain more insight in the role of Hcp1 during infection. Working with cystic fibrosis patients at Children's Hospital Boston, the HMS researchers sought and found Hcp1 in the sputum of patients with P. aeruginosa. They also found Hcp1 antibodies in the patients' blood – further evidence that Hcp1 plays a critical role in the infection. The human immune system creates antibodies to pathogens it is exposed to. ‘CF patients are particularly susceptible to PA,’ Mougous said. ‘The bacterium thrives in the excess mucus that accumulates in their lungs. Once a PA infection in a CF patient's lung has been established, these hardy bacteria are difficult or impossible to clear, which over many years eventually results in the death of the patient. Our paper provides evidence that the protein secretion system we discovered represents at least one way this bacterium could be promoting its own survival in the lungs of CF patients.’ ‘This finding provides a possible drug target to fight the infection in cystic fibrosis patients,’ added Andzrej Joachimiak, director of Argonne's Structural Biology Center and of the Midwest Center for Structural Genomics based at Argonne.

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