The study successfully recovered about 4000 separate strains of bacteria. New technology involving DNA testing enabled investigators to study the molecular signature of the bacteria, resulting in extremely accurate identification.
"People with COPD may have nothing wrong with their immune systems but they keep getting these recurrent infections our findings may explain why this happens. It appears that when a person gets an infection and makes a good immune response, that response is only good for that particular bacteria strain," said Sethi.
Investigators believe their findings may lead to novel ways to treat bacterial infection. "We can use these observations to understand the immune response to bacteria and possibly develop vaccines that keep pace with the changing strains," said Murphy.
There are 50 patients actively involved in this ongoing study, and enrollment continues. VA's Medical Research Service, will support the project through 2004.
Contact: Arlene Kelly
VA Research Communications Service