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New Cardiff Met research project hopes to improve treatment of pneumonia

​News | 23 March, 2021

Scientists at Cardiff Met are embarking on a research project which hopes to bring a fresh understanding of lung infections and help medical professionals predict the severity of cases and tailor their treatment accordingly.

The researchers in Cardiff School of Sport and Health Sciences have been awarded a grant of 30,000 Euro to study ‘Mycoplasma pneumoniae’ in partnership with Public Health England, Cardiff University, University of Bath, University of Bordeaux and Antwerp University Hospital.

Mycoplasma pneumoniae is a bacterium which causes infections in the human body, especially lung infections such as community-acquired pneumonia.

In community-acquired pneumonia, the individual becomes infected in a community setting as opposed to a hospital, nursing home, or other healthcare setting.

Mycoplasma pneumoniae is recognised as a leading cause of community-acquired pneumonia accounting for between 15 and 20 per cent of cases. In a study published last year and led by Cardiff Met, the bacterium was detected in 95,000 samples from people with suspected infections from 11 countries across Europe and Israel between 2011 and 2016.

In more severe infections, such as those affecting the brain, Mycoplasma pneumoniae can be found in 6 to 13 per cent of patients who become hospitalised. Infections caused by Mycoplasma pneumoniae affect people of all ages, but is predominantly seen in children of school age.

The joint study, which will last about a year, will see academics from Cardiff Met examining 200 samples of the bacterium – all taken from patients in England, France and Belgium.

When examining this bacterium, the academics will look at the genetic code to detect how the genetic code affects the severity of the infection.

The small team of biomedical scientists will also re-create an infection in the laboratory in order to see how immune cells react to the 200 samples of Mycoplasma pneumoniae.

The research project will also examine the antibiotic resistance of the bacterium, which could help medics tailor treatment for those suffering with pneumonia and other associated infections.

Speaking about the project, Principal Investigator, Dr Mike Beeton from the Microbiology and Infection Research Group at Cardiff Met said:

"This is an exciting project, with collaborators across the UK and Europe, which we hope will translate into a better understanding of why some infections with Mycoplasma pneumoniae are more severe than others.

"I would like to take this opportunity to thank the European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases for their invaluable financial support – it’s absolutely critical to this project."

Associate Dean (Research) at Cardiff School of Sport and Health Sciences, Professor Philip James added:

"I am delighted to see Cardiff School of Sport and Health Sciences collaborating with prestigious institutions in the UK and Europe on such an important matter.

"This is yet another example of the high-quality, life-enhancing work originating from the School which targets common health conditions."

The research grant has been awarded by the European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (ESCMID), Europe’s leading society in clinical microbiology and infectious diseases.