Miniature artificial lungs to improve the study of pneumococcus

Researchers from the Carlos III Health Institute, in collaboration with groups from the Biomedical Research Center Network (CIBER), described a new model to study the pneumococcus, bacteria that cause diseases such as pneumonia and meningitis. The study is based on the development of lung organoidslab-generated mini-lungs with embryonic pluripotent stem cells that mimic the activity of real lungs.

The research results were published in the journal Microbiology Spectrum.

Mini-lungs allow you to analyze how the pneumococcus behaves and have more knowledge about the infections it causes

Alberto Zambranofrom the Chronic Disease Research Functional Unit, explained that these small lungs “reproduce relatively well the structure and function of the original organ and serve to model any respiratory disease human, which facilitates the search for new targets with therapeutic interest and the testing of new compounds”.

According to Joseph Yusteresponsible for the pneumococcal reference laboratory of the National Center for Microbiology (CNM-ISCIII) responsible for the pneumococcal reference laboratory of the CNM, “using these human organoids, the virulence mechanisms of different respiratory pathogens can be studied and the activity of new drugs can be antimicrobials against multidrug-resistant bacteria”.

A highly variable bacterium

pneumococcus (Streptococcus pneumoniae) is a bacterium that can cause mild illnesses, such as otitis or sinusitis, but also serious ones, such as pneumonia, meningitis, and sepsis. Children under five and over 65 are the most vulnerable to these infections.

There are more than 100 pneumococcal serotypes, some of which are specifically associated with very serious pathologies.

It is a bacterium with a lot of genetic variability, as there are more than 100 serotypes, some of which are specifically associated with very serious pathologies. There are vaccines that protect the individual against the most common serotypes, but the emergence of antibiotic-resistant variants and the increase in cases for which there are no vaccines represent a serious threat to public health.

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The new model is expected to provide the knowledge and tools to fight infections caused by this bacterium, whose global mortality rate in 2015 was 45 deaths per 100,000 children under five years old.

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