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Bavarian Research Network - Helicopredict - Genome-based resistance prediction in Helicobacter pylori

  • Leader: Prof. Dr. Sebastian Suerbaum, PD Dr. Christian Schulz
  • Institution: Max von Pettenkofer Institut, Medizinische Klinik und Poliklinik II
  • Promotion: 2020 to 2025

Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infection is the most common bacterial infection worldwide. Chronic infection leads to chronic active gastritis and, in a subset of patients, further complications such as ulcers or gastric cancer. In fact, approximately 90% of all gastric cancers are associated with H. pylori. Failure of standard eradication therapies is increasing dramatically due to the increasing development of resistant bacterial strains. Since two antibiotics are needed for successful eradication, the use of only one antibiotic for other indications, such as respiratory disease, results in the (usually still) undetected H. pylori strain becoming resistant in these patients. It is estimated that 10-20% of H. pylori strains are already multidrug resistant today. However, culture-based resistance testing, currently recommended only after unsuccessful second-line therapy, is a lengthy process. In vitro growth of H. pylori takes 5 to 7 days after isolation from gastric tissue, and further resistance testing takes between 3 and 5 days. Given this, a rapid method for determining whether an isolated strain is susceptible to antibiotic resistance would be of tremendous help in selecting the appropriate therapy.

To address this challenge, the research group plans to develop an algorithm for predicting antibiotic resistance, primarily based on H. pylori sequence data that can be rapidly collected. The algorithm will be made available to physicians to assist them in selecting optimal therapy. Our approach will thus contribute to optimizing therapeutic efficacy and counteracting the further development of resistance.