Immunology, Transplantation and Infectious diseases

Infections and Cystic Fibrosis

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Head of unit

Alessandra Bragonzi

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Persistent bacterial infections pose serious health problems for humans, including Cystic Fibrosis patients. After an initial acute disease state, that is kept in check by host immune response, bacteria as Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus can establish persistent infections and colonize the host by evading immune surveillance. Our scientific research program aims to elucidate genetic and molecular mechanisms involved in the host-pathogen interactions during initial and persistent infection. Our objective is to devise new therapeutic approaches for the treatment of respiratory infections. We have combined microbiology and immunology with functional genetics and have developed critical mouse models of chronic bacterial infection that reproduce the advanced-stage human pulmonary pathology.

Research activity

At present our research focuses on:

  1. the analysis of how the immunopathological response targets Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus;
  2. the definition of genetic mechanisms involved in the pathogenesis of chronic airways infection to better understand individual risk determinants in Cystic Fibrosis;
  3. the generation of novel mouse models of Cystic Fibrosis by exploring genetically-diverse murine populations that will provide unique tools for disease modeling and pre-clinical studies.

In partnership with the Italian Cystic Fibrosis Research Foundation, we founded a CF animal Core Facility (CFaCore) as a platform for pre-clinical studies and for testing novel antibacterial or anti-inflammatory therapies.

We are making a significant contribution to the advancement of knowledge on the pathogenesis of Cystic Fibrosis, in addition to improving translational studies in the field of pulmonary infections.