Thehe project, which is funded by McGill’s Interdisciplinary Infection and Immunity Initiative, will be jointly led by Jesse Papenburg and Jocelyn Gravel, respectively from the Montreal Children’s Hospital and Sainte-Justine.
“Community-acquired pneumonia in children is one of the leading causes of pediatric hospitalization,” said Dr. Papenburg. About 85% of these children will have a virus that will contribute to pneumonia. But in those kids who are sick enough to need […] to be hospitalized […], it is very difficult to rule out the possibility of a concomitant, or even main, bacterial infection, because the diagnostic methods are not very sensitive. We are not able to detect all cases of bacterial infections. ”
The problem, says Dr. Papenburg, is that the infection takes place in the lungs and it is difficult to collect an adequate specimen from the lungs of a young child.
In addition, doctors know that a viral infection predisposes the patient to a secondary bacterial infection. So they have no choice but to be careful.
“Almost all children hospitalized with pneumonia receive antibiotics, even though we know that the majority probably have just a virus, but we cannot take the chance because pneumonia that is not treated properly can progress badly and be more complicated, “he said.
The new project therefore aims to develop methods that will help to distinguish viral pneumonia from bacterial pneumonia.
In addition to detecting viruses and bacteria, researchers will try to determine whether the response of the child’s immune system, the response of genes that are activated and the products that are found in the blood allow them to identify signatures. which correspond rather to a viral infection or rather to a bacterial infection.
“If we increase our ability to make this differentiation at the diagnostic level, not only will we reduce the overuse of antibiotics in this population […], but maybe we’ll also make sure that children who really need antibiotics get them, “said Dr. Papenburg, a pediatric infectious disease specialist.
Some 120 subjects will be recruited from the two pediatric hospitals for the purposes of this study, which is just beginning.
“This is an exploratory study,” said the specialist. We will make sure that we are able to have adequate specimens that can be analyzed for this type of study. […], which are relatively complex. “
The first results are expected in about 18 months. If successful, the study could be extended to other hospitals in Canada and elsewhere.