A major focus of the Lung Inflammation and Infection Team research program is to investigate the interaction between bacterial pathogens and the host innate immune response within the lung. Chronic respiratory diseases characterised by infection are very prevalent in Australia and globally. We are currently studying the role of iron and other biologically active metal ions in promoting bacterial infection in the lungs of patients with the genetic disease cystic fibrosis (CF) and other suppurative lung diseases. To do this we are studying bacterial and host immune system interactions in vivo using a number of biochemical, molecular and cell imaging methods and also modelling these interactions using mouse models. We are developing molecules to interfere with bacterial iron acquisition with the goal of developing these as antibiotic adjuncts.
The chelator-antibiotic combinations are highly effective against biofilm dwelling bacteria and a major aim will be to explore this combined approach as a potential intervention directed against a number of multi-drug resistant organisms that are currently extremely difficult to treat.