M. Hilty (Microbiome lab)

Microbiota research in respiratory diseases

The molecular characterisation of microbial communities (microbiota) in health and respiratory disease is a major focus of our research. Recently, we simultaneously analysed the microbiota in the lower and upper airways from subjects with asthma, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and healthy controls. In a similar study, we examined the respiratory tract of patients with interstitial lung disease (ILD). The main findings of these studies show how the microbiota can significantly differ between lower and upper airways depending on the type of respiratory diseases. In addition, we investigated the nasopharyngeal microbiota of infants with acute otitis media (AOM). It was revealed that the infants' nasopharyngeal microbiota undergoes significant changes during AOM and after exposure to antimicrobials, which is mainly attributable to the reduced prevalence of commensal bacterial families. Similar results were revealed by our group using a newly developed 16S rRNA gene Terminal Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphism (T-RFLP) method.
The compelling findings of our studies provide a new way to look at respiratory diseases of unknown or complex microbial aetiology.

Antibiotic resistance and epidemiology in Gram-positive and negative bacteria

Fundamental knowledge concerning antibiotic resistance mechanisms in Gram-positive and negative bacteria is a further focus of our group. Regarding Gram-negatives, we have authored several studies related to Extended-spectrum β-lactamase-(ESBL)-producing Enterobacteriaceae (ESC-R-Ent). Interestingly, we recently revealed that the transmission rate of ESC-R-Ent was significantly higher within households than in the hospital setting.
As for the Gram-positives, we have a particular interest in S. pneumoniae. We recently coordinated two studies investigating the heteroresistance mechanisms of S. pneumoniae towards fosfomycin and penicillin. Furthermore, we host the National Reference Centre for Invasive and Colonizing Pneumococcus of Switzerland at our institute, allowing the investigation of the surveillance and epidemiology of S. pneumoniae at national level. Finally, we aim at analyzing new capsule variants using appropriate methods (like 1H-NMR, HPLC and others).