Ongoing projects in clinical microbiology
Campylobacter infections and intestinal microbiota; whole genome sequencing of important bacterial pathogens
Researchers: Hilpi Rautelin, René Kaden
Our research strategy is based on three approaches: to reveal 1) bacterial and 2) human host characteristics relevant for Campylobacter infection and to understand 3) host-pathogen interactions. We apply genome-wide association studies on Campylobacter together with integrated phenotypic characterization to reveal pathogenicity mechanisms of Campylobacter using internationally unique collections of clinically relevant bacterial strains. We also integrate the human gut microbiota in our research and study the role of gut microbiota composition for susceptibility to Campylobacter infection and the impact of Campylobacter infection on gut microbiota composition, along with human host response parameters. We recently showed, for the very first time in humans that, the fecal microbiota composition was associated with susceptibility for Campylobacter infection and that Campylobacter infection had long-term effects on the fecal microbiota composition. Furthermore, individuals whose faecal microbiota had lower diversity became significantly more often infected with Campylobacter than those with a higher diversity of their faecal microbiota composition. In addition, we use in vitro host-pathogen interaction models to study adhesion/invasion mechanisms, cell signaling pathways and downstream effects. Our approach increases understanding of the pathogenicity mechanisms of Campylobacter at a molecular level and helps to direct preventive measures.
Whole genome sequencing is also used to study rare and previously unknown but potentially clinically important bacterial strains. In addition, whole genome sequencing is used to trace contacts in clinical outbreak situations.
Chlamydial infections in humans and birds
Researchers: Björn Herrmann
Identification of success factors for spread of chlamydia infections
Studies with the genotyping system developed in our group has shown that certain genotypes are predominating in many countries. Ongoing project extend typing to analysis of whole genome sequences and aims to identify factors that lead to the successful spread of infection.
Development of prognostic markers for chlamydia associated infertility
Chlamydia trachomatis cause ectopic pregnancy and infertility. In contrast to most research in this field the current project focus on genetic polymorphism patterns in women. The aim of the project is to develop a diagnostic test that identifies individuals at increased risk for infertility. The project is within the framework of a European consortium.
The spread of Chlamydia psittaci
Chlamydia psittaci is a high-risk pathogen, but the knowledge about the transmission risk from wild birds to humans is poor. This project investigates the prevalence of C. psittaci in different bird populations and relate it to the risk of transmission to humans. Genetic characterization can elucidate why certain outbreaks have caused high mortality among humans, while most infections appear to cause mild disease.
Infection prevention and control
Researchers: Birgitta Lytsy, Anna Hambraeus, Ulrika Ransjö
Hand hygiene is one of the most effective measures against healthcare associated infections (HAI) and accordingly an effective safeguard for patient safety. Despite this, adherence to hand hygiene among healthcare workers remains inadequate. The main focus of the research group is to explore new ways of monitoring adherence to hand hygiene among health care workers and to identify barriers and facilitators for increasing compliance with hand hygiene.
Surgical site infections
Surgical site infections (SSI) are the most common HAI in Uppsala and estimated to stand for millions of extra costs due to expensive re-operations. SSI after surgical procedures is calculated to account for 4 times higher mortality rates compared to surgical procedures without infections. SSI are multifactorial and actions to prevent and control SSI must be multimodal. An increased knowledge about the dynamics of transmission routes in the operating room on how to control transmission of airborne bacteria from the ambient air to the surgical wound are the focus of the research group.