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New Research Unit for dangerous hospital germs


The antibiotic-resistant bacterium Acinetobacter baumanii often causes fatal nosocomial infections.

A research unit, approved by the German Research Foundation, under the leadership of researchers based in Frankfurt, has made it their goal to throw light on the infection process and the adaptation mechanisms of the germ. The fundamental insights gained by the research unit will pave the road for the clinical management of this germ.

Multi-drug resistant bacteria have increased dramatically in hospitals in recent years and present immense challenges to staff and patients, often with fatal results. In addition to well-known bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus, new pathogens have come to light in the past few years. One of these is the Gram negative Acinetobacter baumannii.

The German Research Foundation has now approved a new Research Unit, under the leadership of researchers based in Frankfurt, that will unravel the molecular basis for the dramatic increase in multi-drug resistant A. baumannii strains.

A. baumannii has become a common and excellently adapted nosocomial pathogen in developed countries. It causes 5% to 10% of nosocomial pneumonias and 2% to 10% of all infections in the intensive care wards in European clinics. The increase in antibiotic resistance is alarming. The germ belong to the group of six "ESKAPE" organisms that evade antibiotic treatment. Therefore, infections with A. baumannii are frequently fatal.

Several institutes of the Goethe University are involved in the research group 2251 "Adaptation and persistence of Acinetobacter baumannii": the Department of Molecular Microbiology & Bioenergetics, the Institute of Medical Microbiology and Hygiene, the Institute for Cell Biology and Neuroscience, and the Institute for Biochemistry.

The Universities of Cologne and Regenburg, as well as the Robert Koch Institute, are additional collaborators. The researchers will study the biology, infection process and the basis for multi-drug resistance of A. baumannii using a highly interdisciplinary approach. The objective is to determine how it has adapted so well to the hospital environment and what the multi-drug resistance is based on. The answers to these questions will facilitate the treatment related to this dramatically increasing nosocomial pathogen.

Information: Prof. Volker Müller, Coordinator of the Research Unit 2251, Molecular Microbiology and Bioenergetics, Riedberg Campus, Tel: (069)798-29507;,

The Goethe University is an institution with particularly strong research capabilities based in the European financial metropolis of Frankfurt. It celebrates its 100th year of existence in 2014. The university was founded in 1914 through private means from liberally orientated citizens of Frankfurt and has devoted itself to fulfilling its motto "Science for the Society" in its research and teaching activity right up to the present day. Many of the founding donors were of Jewish origin. During the last 100 years, the pioneering services offered by the Goethe University have impacted the fields of social, societal and economic sciences, chemistry, quantum physics, neurological research and labour law. On January 1st, 2008, it achieved an exceptional degree of independence as it returned to its historical roots as a privately funded university. Today it is one of the ten universities that are most successful in obtaining external research funding and one of the three largest universities in Germany with centres of excellence in medicine, life sciences and humanities.

Publisher: The President of Goethe-University Frankfurt/Main. Editor: Dr. Anke Sauter, Marketing und Communication, Grüneburgplatz 1, 60323 Frankfurt am Main, Phone 0049(0)69-798-12478, 0049(0)69-798-28530

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