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CFMATTERS – Cystic Fibrosis research receives €6 million EU research award


An international consortium of Cystic Fibrosis clinicians and scientists, led by Dr Barry Plant of the College of Medicine and Health, Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre and the HRB- Clinical Research Facility, University College Cork/ Cork University Hospital, Ireland has launched a major EU-funded collaboration project focused on the development and trial of personalized antibiotic treatment for patients with CF during respiratory infections. CFMATTERS an acronym for ‘Cystic Fibrosis Microbiome-determined Antibiotic Therapy Trial in Exacerbations: Results Stratified’ will receive approximately €6 million in funding from the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme.

The CFMATTERS consortium brings together a diverse international group of renowned CF experts from both academic institutions/hospitals from across Europe and the United States of America. CFMATTERS partners include; University College Cork and Teagasc Agriculture and Food Development Authority (Ireland), Queen’s University of Belfast, Papworth Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and the University of Dundee (United Kingdom), the Université Paris Descartes and Assistance Publique – Hôpitaux de Paris (France), Universitätsklinikum Heidelberg (Germany), Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (Belgium), and the University of Washington in Seattle (USA). These academic institutions will also cooperate with small business enterprises including clinical data management specialists, Clininfo S.A. (France) and a research project management company, GABO:milliarium (Germany).

The unique project is the first randomized, controlled trial comparing the use of microbiome-directed antibiotic treatment versus standard therapy for patients with CF (PWCF) experiencing respiratory infections. Announcing the funding Dr Barry Plant, CFMATTERS coordinator and Director of the Adult CF Center, Cork University Hospital commented, “CFMATTERS offers a personalized approach to antibiotic treatment. It will enhance individual patient responses and decrease drug resistance by employing next generation technologies. CFMATTERS brings together a powerhouse of international expert clinicians and scientists to further enhance the understanding on how best to treat all chronic and acute infections.”

Cystic Fibrosis affects over 70,000 people worldwide with over 90% dying prematurely from respiratory infections which have overlapping chronic and acute bacterial components caused by a multitude of infective and potentially resistant microorganisms. Mr. Philip Watt, CEO of the Cystic Fibrosis Association of Ireland stated, “This is a tremendous opportunity for Ireland to become a world leader in Cystic Fibrosis care and drug resistance. The success of CFMATTERS will have important positive implications for all patients with CF and their families”. Denis Coughlan an Irish patient with Cystic Fibrosis added, “This new approach to treating infection, I believe offers all patients a new radical approach with potentially significant benefits”.

CFMATTERS will evaluate the potential benefits of a multi-center clinical trial using next-generation DNA sequencing of the bacteria in patient mucus samples compared to current culture media protocols, to guide antibiotic treatment of Cystic Fibrosis patients. This personalized, microbiome-derived antibiotic treatment will be evaluated by recording the speed of patient recovery and the length of time elapsed before the next infection.

In parallel, scientists will also analyze the genetic makeup or microbiome of the resident microflora in the mucus and gut, and their interaction with the host. Cell and murine models of Cystic Fibrosis disease will also be used. Collectively, these studies will pave the way for more effective therapeutic regimes and ultimately contribute to the development of personalized Cystic Fibrosis treatment. This approach may potentially revolutionize the practice of antibiotic prescription in other acute and chronic infections also. Antibiotic resistance is one of the most significant challenges facing the EU health care system owing to unnecessary and inappropriate use of antibiotics. Personalized antibiotic treatment using next generation technology such as that employed by the CFMATTERS project could limit the development of antimicrobial resistance globally, by only prescribing those antibiotics that are necessary for an individual patient using.