Cystic Fibrosis Canada fellow Dr. Émilie Vallières is currently completing her PhD at Queen’s University Belfast, where she was involved in several research projects focused on treating multiple bacterial infections in people with cystic fibrosis (CF). Her work will impact people with CF by shedding light on the best treatment approaches for bacterial infections in people with CF. Already, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) treatment protocols in Belfast have been updated as a direct result of this research.
Dr. Vallières’ studies will help to clarify the role of harmful microorganisms in the lungs of CF patients. It will also guide the best treatment approaches for healthcare providers in challenging clinical situations, such as patients with multiresistant bacteria. Four of the studies that Dr. Vallières was involved in are described below:
One project examined the clinical treatment of CF patients with chronic Pseudomonas aeruginosa infections, testing whether the current treatment protocol of two antibiotics (ceftazidime and tobramycin) was enhanced by adding a third antibiotic, to target the second and third most common bacteria present in the person’s lungs. This study is still underway, with results yet to come.
Another study involved adult CF patients seen at the Northern Ireland Adult CF Centre who acquired a new MRSA lung infection between the years 2000 and 2014. The study looked at the success rates of different MRSA treatments, with the goal of standardizing and optimizing clinical practice. Results of this study found that Rifampicin and Fusidic Acid were the most frequent and successful treatments.
A third project examined adult patients with bronchiectasis from the Respiratory Clinic at Belfast City Hospital with recent Pseudomonas aeruginosa infections. The aim was to identify various treatments for Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and to look at the success rate of these treatments, as well as the clinical impact of treatment outcomes. The study found that treatments involving both inhaled and systemic antibiotics were more effective in ridding the body of Pseudomonas aeruginosa than systemic treatments alone.
Finally, a fourth investigation involved testing whether markers in a patient’s urine are connected with disease severity. Preliminary results show correlation between some inflammatory markers in the urine and lung function/clinical data. This study is still ongoing and statistical analyses are being refined.
Dr. Émilie Vallières is a pediatric medical microbiologist and infectious disease consultant at CHU Sainte-Justine (Montreal) and Associate Professor at the Department of Microbiology, Infectious Disease and Immunology of the Université de Montréal. She obtained her medical degree in 2008 from the Université Laval (Québec). She then completed her specialty training in medical microbiology at the Université de Montréal. After graduating in 2013, she undertook a research fellowship and a PhD at Queen’s University Belfast (United Kingdom), focusing on microbiology of cystic fibrosis respiratory infections. She returned to CHU Sainte-Justine in 2015 where she works closely with the local CF team in order to optimise the longitudinal follow-up of CF patients who have complicated or multiresistant lung infection.