Dr. Jian-Dong Li receives $1.6 million to develop novel therapeutic targets to treat middle-ear infections

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Dr. Jian-Dong Li, a professor and director of the Institute for Biomedical Sciences at Georgia State University and a Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar in Inflammation and Immunity, has received a five-year, $1.6 million federal grant to develop novel anti-inflammatory therapeutics against middle-ear infections.

The grant from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders of the National Institutes of Health will support Li's drug development goals of identifying novel therapeutic targets and further developing non-antibiotic therapeutics to treat middle-ear infections by using drug repurposing.

Otitis media, or middle-ear infection, is the most common childhood bacterial infection and the leading cause of conductive hearing loss. It remains a major health problem and a substantial socioeconomic burden, accounting for 24.5 million visits to physicians' offices each year and costing more than $5 billion annually, according to studies in Pediatric Annals and Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery.

Streptococcus pneumonia is a major bacterial pathogen causing middle-ear infection. Current vaccines have a limited impact on middle-ear infection and inappropriate antibiotic use has significantly increased antibiotic resistance. To date, there have been no effective non-antibiotic therapeutic agents available for middle-ear infections because of poor understanding of the bacterial pathogenesis.

"The goal of this project is to understand the molecular mechanisms underlying the tight control of innate inflammatory and host defense response in bacteria-induced middle-ear infections," Li said. "Appropriate immune and inflammatory response is critical for host defense, or protection from infection, in children. However, if uncontrolled, excessive inflammatory response often results in immunopathology and impaired function of the middle ear. Inflammatory response must be tightly controlled, but the key regulators and underlying mechanism of otitis media remain largely unknown."

The proposed studies will advance the understanding of the molecular pathogenesis of bacteria-induced middle-ear infection and may lead to novel therapeutic strategy to suppress overactive inflammation, improve middle-ear hearing function and enhance host defense for middle-ear infection, Li said.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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