The most common cause of urinary tract infection is uropathogenic Escherichia coli (E. coli), which accounts for greater than 80% of infections in our community. This pathogen is becoming increasingly resistant to antibiotic therapies, therefore, alternative strategies to treat these infections are needed.
We will target the host immune system - specifically immune protein interleukin-22 (IL-22) - rather than the bacteria. IL-22 is known to protect against bacterial infections at other mucosal sites and to regenerate damaged tissue in other organs.
Currently, its function in urinary tract infection is unknown. We aim to determine the role of IL-22 in urinary tract infections by using existing techniques and paediatric cohorts, enabling us to provide evidence to re-purpose emerging immunotherapies that target IL-22, that have been developed for other diseases. This is likely to offer a much-needed alternative therapy to combat the bacterial resistance in urinary tract infections, as well as promote tissue repair to limit the severity of renal complications and reduce the likelihood of progression to chronic kidney disease.