Translating bacterial molecular epidemiology into information to improve infectious disease risk assessment and control [ 2005 - 2007 ]

Also known as: Generating useful information for clinical and public health action from complex bacterial genetic data

Research Grant

[Cite as]

Researchers: Prof Gwendolyn Gilbert (Principal investigator) ,  A/Pr Philip Giffard Dr Fanrong Kong Prof Enrico Coiera Prof Vitali Sintchenko

Brief description Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus) and group B streptococcus (GBS) are important pathogenic bacteria, which cause septicaemia and meningitis in young infants, the elderly and people with certain chronic diseases. Both consist of a number of different types, some of which are more likely to cause disease than others. Pneumococcal vaccines that protect against the commonest pathogenic types are used in Australia in people most at risk.Antibiotic resistance is an increasing problem, which should be partly off-set by immunisation. Giving antibiotics during labour, to women colonised with GBS, can reduce infection rates in newborns, but there are many disadvantages of this approach, including the risk of increased antibiotic resistance. Vaccines against GBS are mpt yet available. We have developed methods to identify detailed fingerprints of these bacteria which allow us to identify types, antibiotic resistance and, for GBS, other characteristics which can distinguish highly pathogenic strains from the majority that are carried harmlessly and unlikely to cause disease. The methods are still quite slow and expensive and produce complex patterns,which are difficult to interpret rapidly. We plan to develop a new, rapid and relatively inexpensive, fingerprinting system for these bacteria and computer programs to analyse and interpret the results. They will allow us to check the strains of pneumococci that cause disease to make sure that new ones, not covered by the vaccine, do not become more common and reduce the effectiveness of vaccine and that antibiotic resistance does not increase further. The methods will also allow us to study differences between the small proportion of GBS strains that cause neonatal infection and the majority that are carried harmlessly by pregnant women and are of little risk to their babies. Eventually this should allow doctors to identify women whose babies are most at risk, reduce unnecessary antibiotic use.

Funding Amount $AUD 494,500.00

Funding Scheme NHMRC Project Grants

Notes Standard Project Grant

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