The Genome Research Laboratory has developed a very complete genetic platform that has managed to consolidate the important synergies between bioinformatics, high-level sequencing, the genome and microbial genetics (microarrays technique). The study of resistance mechanisms to antimicrobial treatments ofStaphylococcus aureus, it’s intracellular survival in the formation of biofilm (a growth method that this bacteria adapts when it finds itself in contact with cellular surfaces or biomaterials) are the principal themes of current research. The Genome Research Laboratory is also actively implicated in metagenomics that studies the role of bacterial flora in biochemical processes in the functioning of the human body.
Development of new bacterial identification methods in collaboration with industry with classical mass spectroscopy methods and easy-MS, applying next-generation sequencing to clinical questions as well as clinical research making up the core of current research work at the Bacteriology Laboratory. Regarding routine bacteriological analyses and translational research projects, a very close intra-HUG collaboration was established over the years to include the following players: Dental Medicine, Infection Control, Intensive Care, Pediatrics (Osteomyelitis atKingella kingae), Reconstructive Surgery (Noma project), Pharmacy and the Cell Therapy Center (quality controls) as well as the Blood Transfusion Center (hemovigilance).
Since 2014, new methods to detect antimicrobial resistance have been developed and research supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation is being led to identify new molecular markers capable of detecting emerging resistance to glycopeptides in staphylococcus aureus.
Infections caused by multi-resistant microbes is a major public health problem. Faced with a shortage of new antibiotics, it’s essential to develop new antimicrobial approaches. The Translational Microbiology Laboratory is directly involved in this process by investigating antibacterial strategies geared towards the inhibition of virulence and competition between bacterial species. It uses Pseudomonas aeruginosa infectionsas a model in hospitalized patients in an intensive care setting, as well as in patients undergoing lung transplants. Research projects developed in this group apply to direct analysis methods for respiratory flora and pathogens in the patient (meta-general), as well as in in vitro studies that enable to decrypt bacterial interactions in order to find new therapeutic targets. The laboratory is also directly involved in European projects aimed at developing new antimicrobials, as well as in projects aiming to develop new bandages to treat major burns, by combining antibacterial molecules as well as growth factors for rapid skin replenishment (list of publications is available under: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=van+Delden+C+and+pseudomonas).
The research group was established in 2005 by Dr. Caroline Tapparel (FR) within the Department of Medicine in collaboration with Prof. Laurent Kaiser and the Virology Laboratory. It is studying the genetic and phenotypic diversity of rhinoviruses and enteroviruses, two significant human pathogens. With molecular and cellular biology tools as well as biochemical strategies, the research group is trying to identify the genetic determinants that give these viruses certain pathogenic traits, such as virulence or neurotropism. Furthermore, it uses human respiratory tract epithelium models to study the interactions between rhinoviruses and their host, or between rhinoviruses and other respiratory pathogens. This area of research is essential from the perspective of antiviral development and / or vaccines against these very common infectious agents.
Rhinovirus and Enterovirus Research
The research team studies the diversity and the evolutionary capacity of rhinoviruses and enteroviruses. Rhinovirus is the major cause of upper respiratory tract infections in humans and is also frequently associated with escalating existing respiratory disorders such as asthma or cystic fibrosis. Enteroviruses include, for their part, significant human neurotropic pathogens such as poliovirus or enterovirus 71. Rhinoviruses and enteroviruses are characterized by their significant genetic and phenotypic variations, which complicates the development of antiviral medicines or vaccines. The research group aims to increase understanding of this diversity. Mutations and recombination is studied in vitrousing inverse genetics but also in vivo in immunocompetent and immunosuppressed infected subjects. The group also investigates correlations between genomic characteristics and viral pathogenesis.
HIV - AIDS
The research team within the Infectious Diseases Outpatient Consultation focuses its activities on the potential unwanted effects of antiretroviral treatment (cocktail therapy); as such, we are conducting a clinical study to compare the efficiency of treatments aimed at lowering cholesterol (statins) in patients living with HIV in order to evaluate whether their effectiveness is deserving of a much larger prescription.
Prevention and Treatment of Infections in the Field of Orthopedics
The prevention of infections in surgery is a broad topic, that implicates pre-, peri- and post-operative measures. Very often, patients suffering from a bone and joint infection will need live monitoring, whether it involves an orthopedic pathology (prosthesis infection), an infected open fracture or a problem with an infected diabetic foot. Although it is relatively rare, bone and joint infections is a challenge for care personnel (physicians, nurses and physiotherapists) and a test for patients. In our hospital, treating patients with a bone and joint infection is multidisciplinary, bringing together long-standing specialized and acquired expertise from everyone. Finally, it involves complex problems, as we lead several scientific and clinical research projects at the same time in order to give patients the best possible treatment.
Infections in Immunosuppressed Patients
Geneva University Hospitals is one of the hematopoietic stem cell and solid organ (liver, kidney, pancreas, islets of Langerhans) transplant surgery centers in Switzerland. In addition, HUG monitors a huge number of lung and heart transplant patients. From their chronic immunosuppression these patients have a particularly elevated risk of infection. The research team of the Infectiology Consultation in immunosuppressed patients focuses its research projects on epidemiology, prevention and treatment of infections arising in transplant patients. It is highly involved in multi-center Swiss studies, especially with fungal infections in these patients, using as a research platform the database of the “Swiss Transplant Cohort” (STCS, www.stcs.ch) (See the list of available publications).
Free Radicals and Stem Cells
The research laboratory focusing on free radicals and stem cells has done studies on chronic granulomatosis, a genetic disease characterized by a lack of NADPH oxydase resulting in an inability for leukocytes to generate free radicals. This illness predisposes infectious illnesses and inflammatory illnesses.
Recently, the laboratory has been particularly interested in the relationship between chronic granulomatosis and mycobacterial infections.
In the area of stem cells, Prof. Krause is Head of the Experimental Cell Therapy Laboratory at HUG. In addition to cell therapy, the laboratory is also interested in applying stem cells to infectious diseases studies. In particular, the laboratory has developed strategies in tissue engineering in order to study infections in the human central nervous system.