Belfast Research Suggests Way of Reducing Pneumonia in ITU Patients

HARROGATE, United Kingdom -- Research reported this week at the British Pharmaceutical Conference points the way to reducing the risk of pneumonia in seriously ill patients who are receiving mechanical ventilation.

Ventilator-associated pneumonia is a leading cause of disease and death in the intensive care unit. It is believed to be related to the build up of a layer of bacteria on the endotracheal tube. Once this microbial layer, or biofilm, has built up it is difficult to remove it with antibiotic injections. Consequently, there is interest in the use of nebulized antibiotic (gentamicin), delivered via the ventilator, as a prophylactic measure.

The challenge is to increase the efficiency of nebulization by ensuring that the antibiotic persists for a prolonged time around the surface of the endotracheal tube. Scientists at the School of Pharmacy, Queen's University of Belfast, reported that they have found a way of doing this by putting a special copolymer coating on the endotracheal tube.

The coating is designed to absorb the antibiotic, trapping it at the required site of action. A series of different hydrogel copolymers were tested in laboratory experiments, leading to the identification of formulations that efficiently absorbed gentamicin and were able to prevent adherence of bacteria for over four hours.

The researchers commented, "The use of such coatings will allow entrapment of gentamicin following nebulisation. This will allow release of drug to occur post-nebulisation, thereby potentially reducing the incidence of ventilator-associated pneumonia."

Source: Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain