Haemophilus influenzae is a common cause of otitis media (ear infections) in children and is the number one reason young children are seen by pediatricians. Researchers at the Columbus Children's Research Institute (CCRI) on the campus of Columbus Children's Hospital recently determined the complete genome sequence of a strain of nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae, originally isolated from a child undergoing surgery for tube insertion at Columbus Children's Hospital. This effort was supported by the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders of the National Institutes of Health and published in the July issue of the Journal of Bacteriology.
The CCRI research team, led by Robert Munson, Jr., Ph.D., from the Center for Microbial Pathogenesis at CCRI and the Department of Pediatrics at The Ohio State University College of Medicine and Public Health, worked collaboratively with a research team from the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, led by David Dyer, Ph.D. to complete the first genome sequence for a strain of nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae—a germ responsible for otitis media and other diseases of the respiratory tract. Another group of researchers previously completed the genome sequence of a related organism that provided insight into the basic genetic makeup of the organism, but this earlier genomic sequence was not from an otitis media pathogen.
"Having the complete genome sequence for nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae allows us to understand the basic genetic makeup of the organism and how it causes disease," said Munson. "This information can help us design additional experiments that could eventually lead to a vaccine or novel intervention strategies for otitis media and other respiratory tract diseases."
In addition to the work with nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae, researchers at CCRI have a promising vaccine candidate to prevent middle ear infections and recently partnered with the National Institutes for Health (NIH), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), pharmaceutical companies and other scientists in an effort to expedite the process of developing what they believe is a long-overdue vaccine for ear infections.Columbus Children’s ranks among the top 10 in National Institutes of Health research awards and grants to freestanding children’s hospitals in the country and houses the Department of Pediatrics of The Ohio State University College of Medicine and Public Health. With nearly 600,000 patient visits each year, Children’s Hospital is a 112-year-old pediatric healthcare network treating newborns through age 21. In 2004, the Columbus Children’s Research Institute conducted more than 300 research projects and is the home of Centers of Emphasis encompassing gene therapy; molecular and human genetics; vaccines and immunity; childhood cancer; cell and vascular biology; developmental pharmacology and toxicology; injury research and policy; microbial pathogenesis; cardiovascular medicine; and biobehavioral health. Pediatric Clinical Trials International (PCTI), a site management organization affiliated with the hospital, also coordinated more than 50 clinical trials. In addition to having one of the largest ambulatory programs in the country, Children’s offers specialty programs and services. More than 75,000 consumers receive health and wellness education each year and affiliation agreements with nearly 100 institutions allow more than 1,700 students and 500 residents to receive training at Children’s annually. More information on Children’s Hospital of Columbus is available by calling (614) 722-KIDS (5437) or through the hospital’s Web site at http://www.columbuschildrens.com.