New defence against bacterial infection in CGD

Studies in CGD mice have found that the deletion of a protein, called olfactomedin 4 (Olfm4), in white blood cells, improves the ability to fight off infection from staphylococcus aureus infection, a major threat for people with CGD.

The research at the National Institutes of Health in the USA and published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation might pave the way to developing new treatments to fight against serious infections in CGD.

‘Although treatment for CGD has greatly improved over the past several years, the disease remains challenging," said Dr. Wenli Liu, staff scientist and lead author. ‘This work provides the rationale for boosting a CGD patient’s defence against bacterial infections by changing the levels of the Olf4 protein.’

The research also has wider implications for the treatment of MRSA, methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, and other drug-resistant bacteria. MRSA is a strain of bacteria that has become resistant to antibiotics most often used to treat staphylococcus aureus infections. It is most commonly contracted in hospitals and represents a significant public health threat.

‘Over the years, MRSA and other bacteria have evolved to be resistant to many antibiotics’, said Griffin P. Rodgers, M.D., NIDDK director and study lead. ‘This study suggests an alternative approach to combat infection by strengthening white blood cell capabilities from within the cells, in addition to resorting to traditional antibiotic treatment. We are now investigating how changing Olfm4 levels in human cells enhances immunity to and from a variety of drug-resistant bacteria.  This will take us further to developing drug treatment for people, possibly through development of an antibody or small molecule that could inhibit Olfm4 activity.’