Pitt-Children’s Team Gets $8.2 Million To Study Antibiotic Resistance

Issue Date: 
January 10, 2011

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC have been awarded a six-year, $8.2 million contract (pending the availability of appropriations) from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to conduct a study of 600 children to address antibiotic resistance.

Children’s Hospital is one of only four institutions to be awarded these contracts related to antimicrobial research from the NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).

The Children’s clinical trial will aim to determine the efficacy of short-course antibiotic therapy and its impact on antimicrobial resistance in young children with acute otitis media (ear infections). The principal investigator is Alejandro Hoberman, a professor of pediatrics in the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and chief of the Children’s  Division of General Academic Pediatrics.

Acute otitis media is the pediatric illness for which antibiotics are most often prescribed. Three out of four children will experience an ear infection by age 3. However, diagnosis remains difficult, and experts often are divided on treatment options, Hoberman said.

“Ear infections affect the vast majority of children, yet they can be difficult to diagnose, and clinicians do not always agree on what constitutes adequate treatment. Experts remain divided between the so-called ‘watchful waiting’ approach and treatment with antibiotics,” said Hoberman, who also is the Jack L. Paradise Endowed Professor in Pediatric Research at Children’s Hospital. “Children’s plans to enroll more than 600 children in the study to determine the efficacy of a short-duration antibiotic treatment strategy, compared with standard duration, in treating ear infections, and what the impact is on antibiotic resistance.”

These new trials are part of a two-pronged NIAID approach to antimicrobial research: learning how to make better use of the drugs that exist today to protect their usefulness while simultaneously facilitating the development of new drugs.