New compound could improve treatment of lung infection in cystic fibrosis patients

Tomás Sou, a researcher at the Department of Pharmacy, Uppsala University in Sweden, presented the study at the International Pharmaceutical Federation's Pharmaceutical Sciences World Congress 2017

Scientists have developed a new compound that could improve the quality of life of cystic fibrosis patients by increasing the effectiveness of antibiotics in tackling chronic lung infection caused by Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

According to research, presented at the International Pharmaceutical Federation’s Pharmaceutical Sciences World Congress on 22 May 2017[1]
, the compound — called a quorum sensing inhibitor (QSI) — interrupts the communication pathways, or quorum sensing, between P. aeruginosa bacterial cells, resulting in reduced virulence and decreased tolerance to antibiotics.

“This research could ultimately improve the quality of life for these patients and, potentially, others,” says Tomás Sou, a researcher at the Department of Pharmacy, Uppsala University in Sweden, who presented the study at the conference.

P. aeruginosa infections are also a concern in hospitals, particularly for patients who have been in hospital for more than a week. These infections can be life-threatening. Our work could eventually also have relevance for these people.”

Around 80% of CF patients suffer from chronic lung infections caused by P. aeruginosa. These infections are commonly treated with antibiotics, such as tobramycin, but with varying degrees of success as P. aeruginosa can develop resistance to antibiotics by forming a biofilm. Consequently, P. aeruginosa infection is associated with a rapid decline in lung function and increased morbidity and mortality.

With this knowledge, the researchers developed a compound that could inhibit the quorum sensing communication between bacteria cells that enables biofilm formation and consequently reduce antibiotic resistance.

The QSI was delivered in combination with tobramycin as a liquid aerosol formulation directly into the lungs of a rat model of chronic P. aeruginosa. The result was a synergistic effect between the QSI and tobramycin whereby the bacteria was sensitised to the antibiotic resulting in fewer P. aeruginosa biofilm colonies.


[1] Sou T, Bergström C, Cámara M et al. Quorum sensing inhibitors for pulmonary delivery as a novel treatment against Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Presented at the 6th FIP Pharmaceutical Sciences World Congress (PSWC) on 21–24 May 2017 in Stockholm.

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, May 2017;Online:DOI:10.1211/PJ.2017.20202823