What is Pseudomonas aeruginosa and how does AMR play a role?
Author: Arnav Padhi
Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a bacterium, which is mainly found in hospital environments, causing infections in the bloodstream, urinary tract, lungs, surgical wounds and burns. It is commonly seen in those nursed in intensive care units requiring mechanical help with their breathing. This bacteria with high potential for developing resistance to antibiotics may be transmitted from contaminated objects in the hospital including linen, catheters, scopes, and ventilators.
Pseudomonas aeruginosa infections are more common in people over the age of 55 years and those who have prolonged hospital stays. The bacteria can also grow on food products including fruits and vegetables, which is why proper washing and preparation of food with clean water is imperative before eating them.
Pseudomonas aeruginosa infections are treated with antibiotics, however, when a resistant strain is present, this can pose a major threat to patients because it means that the bacterial infection will not respond to certain classes of antibiotics.
According to the WHO, highly resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa is considered as a Priority 1 pathogen for which there is an urgent need to look for new treatments. Other types of priority pathogens include Acinetobacter baumannii, Enterobacteriaceae, Enterococcus faecium, Helicobacter pylori, Campylobacter spp., Salmonellae, Neisseria gonorrhoeae, Streptococcus pneumoniae, Staphylococcus aureus, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, and Candida auris.
Some of the steps we can take to reduce Pseudomonas aeruginosa infection are to:
- Wash hands regularly using soap and clean water, or alcohol-based hand rub in health settings
- If you enter a hospital, ensure that your health care professional (doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, etc.) sanitize their hands before and after they make contact with you because these dangerous bacteria can be passed between patients
- Avoid swimming in places where the water is not treated with chemicals like chlorine which help to manage dangerous bacteria. After swimming, properly clean and dry your ears
- Clean food products like vegetables and fruits properly before eating them. Also make sure that the utensils used to cut vegetables are properly washed
- After surgery always check for signs of infection and if you have any concerns, discuss them with your doctor
- Always take your antibiotic medication exactly as prescribed by a competent prescriber
Antibiotics are life-saving medicines, although with the growing concern of antibiotic resistance, scientists have been exploring novel treatments for Pseudomonas infections which have developed resistance including phage therapy. Phages are microscopic viruses which fight back against the resistant bacteria and recently they have shown to be a promising approach because of their cost effectiveness which is particularly important to LMIC regions like India.
In phage therapy for resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa, specific bacteriophages that are capable of infecting and killing the bacteria are identified and isolated. These phages are then purified and prepared in a solution that can be administered to the patient.
Phage therapy for resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa can be administered topically or systemically, depending on the site of infection. Topical application involves directly applying the phage solution to the infected area, such as a wound or burn. Systemic administration involves injecting the phage solution into the bloodstream or other body cavities.
Studies have shown that phage therapy can be effective in treating resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa infections, but further research is needed to fully understand the potential benefits and limitations of this approach.
Arnav Padhi is currently working as a doctoral researcher at the School of Biosciences and Technology, VIT University, Vellore, India. His work involves using Phage Therapy as an alternative strategy to treat infections caused by Multidrug-resistant (MDR) Pseudomonas aeruginosa infections. He is also involved in screening and identification of resistant genes in Pseudomonas aeruginosa which is the prime cause of AMR and Hospital-associated Infections (HAIs). He previously worked in the field of AMR in one of the top labs in India and is actively involved in seminars and workshops that focus on raising awareness about AMR. Beyond his lab work, Arnav is actively involved in science blogging and creative writing.