New research unit to uncover multi-drug resistant bacteria in hospitals

Multi-drug resistant bacteria have increased dramatically in hospitals in recent years and present immense challenges to staff and patients, often with fatal results. New pathogens have come to light in the past few years in addition to the bacteria that are already well-known, such as Staphylococcus aureus. One of these is the Gram negative bacterium Acinetobacter baumannii. The German Research Foundation has now approved a new research unit, under the leadership of researchers based in Frankfurt, which will uncover the molecular basis for the dramatic increase in multi-drug resistant A. baumannii strains.

A. baumannii has become a common and excellently adapted nosocomial pathogen in developed countries. It causes 5% to 10% of nosocomial pneumonias and 2% to 10% of all infections in intensive care wards in European clinics. The increase in antibiotic resistance is alarming. The bacterium belongs to the group of six "ESKAPE" organisms that evade antibiotic treatment. Therefore, infections with A. baumannii are frequently fatal.

Several institutes from the Goethe University are involved in the research unit 2251 "Adaptation and persistence of Acinetobacter baumannii": the Department of Molecular Microbiology & Bioenergetics, the Institute of Medical Microbiology and Hygiene, the Institute for Cell Biology and Neuroscience, and the Institute for Biochemistry. The Universities of Cologne and Regenburg, as well as the Robert Koch Institute, are additional collaborators. The researchers will study the biology, infection process and the basis for multi-drug resistance of A. baumannii using a highly interdisciplinary approach. The objective is to determine how it has adapted so well to the hospital environment and what its multi-drug resistance is based on. The answers to these questions will facilitate treatment related to this dramatically increasing nosocomial pathogen.


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