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Study model of the pneumococci based on mini-lungs generated in the laboratory

Streptococcus pneumoniae is a bacterium with genetic variability: there are more than 100 serotypes, some of which are specifically associated with very serious infections.

Young children under the age of five and those over 65 are most vulnerable to these infections. Photo: Shutterstock.

Researchers from the Carlos III Health Institute (ISCIII) and from various areas of the Network Biomedical Research Center Consortium (CIBER), have developed a new model to identify the bacteria that cause diseases, such as e.g. pneumonia y meningitis.

This is thanks to the creation of pulmonary organoids or mini-lungs created in the laboratory using embryonic pluripotent stem cells, which mimic the activity of real lungs.

The ‘Streptococcus pneumoniaeoh pneumococciis a bacterium capable of developing some minor illnessessuch as otitis or sinusitis, but which in turn also leads to the development of more serious ones such as pneumonia, meningitis y sepsis.

“These small lungs reproduce the structure and function of the original organ relatively well and serve to model any human respiratory disease, facilitating the search for new targets of therapeutic interest and the testing of new compounds”, confirms Alberto Zambrano, of the Biotechnology -laboratory of stem cells and organoids of the UFIEC.

Young children under the age of five and those over 65 are most vulnerable to these infections.

Currently, medicine has vaccines that protect patients against the most common serotypes, but since it is a bacterium with a lot of genetic variability and has more than 100 serotypes, there is the appearance of some that are resistant to antibiotics, and likewise, the cases for which the vaccine would have no effect and what could become a risk to public health is increasing.

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The study model based on mini-lungs allows us to analyze how the lung behaves. pneumococci in these artificial organoids, allowing researchers to better understand their behavior as they infect real lungs, and what they cause over time.

“We can study the virulence mechanisms of different respiratory pathogens and characterize the activity of new antimicrobials against bacteria that are multi-resistant to antibiotics,” concludes José Yuste, head of the CNM-ISCIII pneumococcal reference laboratory.

Source consulted here.

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