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Treat bacterial pneumonia with vaccines instead of antibiotics
Pneumonia has long been a common disease. According to experts, more people with this diagnosis are hospitalized each year than after a heart attack or stroke. Pneumonia caused by bacteria is primarily treated with antibiotics. But treatment with vaccines has advantages, according to researchers.
Every minute, two children die of pneumonia
According to health experts, around 800,000 people in Germany develop pneumonia every year. The dangerous illness can be fatal. The number of deaths from pneumonia in this country is estimated at around 35,000 a year. Older people are particularly at risk in Germany, younger people globally. The children's aid organization Save the Children recently reported that two children die of pneumonia worldwide every minute. Even though the dangerous infectious disease can often be treated well.
Treatment mostly with antibiotics
In this country, pneumonia caused by bacteria is primarily treated with antibiotics. If there is no improvement within 24 hours after taking the preparation, the patient is usually prescribed other antibiotics.
But patients are not treated so well in all regions of the world. There is also the problem of increasing antibiotic resistance.
The study by researchers from the University Children's Hospital Zurich and the University of Zurich (UZH) with an international team could be helpful here.
According to her, her work, the results of which have been published in the "Journal of Infectious Diseases", forms the basis for the development of new vaccines. These would also counteract the increasing resistance to antibiotics.
Mycoplasma is one of the most common causes of bacterial pneumonia in children. The origin of the disease is still unclear.
Scientists from the University Children's Hospital Zurich and UZH have now shown that specific immune cells, so-called B cells, are essential for curing the infection.
The antibodies they produce eliminate the mycoplasma in the lungs. In contrast, the bacteria remain in the nasopharynx for weeks.
The research team cultivated the bacteria with a fluorescent substance and was able to visually track the pathogens in the lungs and upper respiratory tract for the first time during the infection.
The results of the newly developed mouse model confirm clinical observations in children whose upper respiratory tract remained populated following infection with mycoplasma.
Different immune defenses in the lungs and nasopharynx
The team around the infectiologist Patrick Meyer Sauteur shows that the immune defense after the infection differs significantly between the lungs and the upper airways.
The researchers found more so-called IgM and IgG antibodies in the lungs, as well as a significant increase and activation of B cells in the local lymph nodes - whereby the pathogens could be destroyed within weeks.
In contrast, they found IgA antibodies in the upper respiratory tract, no activation of B cells and, consequently, persistence of the pathogen.
Experiments with mice without B cells ultimately provided evidence that the antibodies transferred to the mice effectively destroyed the bacteria in the lungs, but these could not eliminate the pathogen in the upper airways.
B cells play a key role
"These are the first data to prove that the antibody-mediated immune response is essential for a lung infection with mycoplasma," explains Patrick Meyer Sauteur in a message.
The results could help develop specific vaccines that would prepare the immune system for defense and prevent infection:
“Our work lays the foundation for the development of vaccines against mycoplasma. This is at a time when, due to the sharp increase in resistance in certain regions of the world, there are often no suitable antibiotics for mycoplasma anymore, ”says Meyer Sauteur. (ad)