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Preventing and combating campylobacter infections: on track towards a One Health approach (PAC-Campy)

09/2017-08/2020

This third-party funded project is conducted in the framework of the BfR research programme on human, animal and environmental health (One Health).

BMBF grant number: 01KI1725B

Project homepage: -

Project description:

Campylobacter is a major cause of acute bacterial enteritis in humans and causes a high economic burden in industrialised nations worldwide. In addition, immunological sequelae of infections such as the Guillain-Barré-Syndrome or chronic arthritis account for serious suffering. The increasing number of officially registered human cases creates the urgent need for development of novel strategies for prevention, control and treatment of Campylobacter infections. To achieve this, we are proposing several coordinated lines of research within this closely linked One Health consortium represented by veterinarians, food microbiologists, physicians, epidemiologists, microbiologists, public health experts and basic researchers.

We aim to use the cooperative power of this network to investigate the efficacy of mitigation strategies established along the food chain, survival strategies outside the host and host-pathogen interaction in order to limit pathogen colonisation and spread in affected animals, in humans and in the environment, respectively. In line with investigations of virulence, genetic exchange, epidemiology, transmission and survival, these measures will provide novel strategies to prevent and combat both Campylobacter colonisation in chickens, as well as human infections.

Another major focus is set onto the development of novel molecular methods that will allow for sensitive quantitative detection of Campylobacter spp. in all stages of the food chain. Finally, models of risk intervention and improved source attribution, based on data generated by the consortium, will support public health authorities and industry to focus intervention measures accordingly.

BfR part of the project:

C. jejuni exhibits outstanding genetic diversity primarily due to frequent natural transformation. Routine monitoring of antibiotic resistance in Campylobacter performed in the National Reference Laboratory for Campylobacter revealed that a high percentage of isolates from food are resistant to multiple antimicrobials. Extracellular DNA can serve as a nutrient source, a matrix for biofilm formation, the repair of genetic damage and genome variation, thus leading to the improved adaptation and survival of pathogens. In this sub-project, we intend to address the impact of horizontal gene transfer on genetic diversity in C. jejuni and intend to open up strategies for the reduction of genetic diversity/survival by inhibiting DNA binding and/or uptake. This strategy might be suitable to reduce resistance spreading, biofilm formation, survival in the environment and colonisation in the host. In particular, a single cell assay will be applied for the monitoring of DNA uptake in C. jejuni, which allows for the characterisation of competence development. In addition, mutants defective in natural transformation will be tested (i) for their ability to form biofilms, (ii) for their colonisation capacity in vivo and (iii) their adaptive potential with and without selection pressure, (iv) their survival/tenacity in the environment.

Project partners:

  • Freie Universität Berlin, Germany (coordination)
  • Robert Koch Institute, Germany
  • Charité - University Medicine Berlin, Germany
  • University of Veterinary Medicine Hanover, Foundation, Germany
  • Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Germany
  • Bavarian Health and Food Safety Authority, Germany

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