Opinion: Model Systems to Study the Chronic, Polymicrobial Infections in Cystic Fibrosis: Current Approaches and Exploring Future Directions

Mbio, 12(5), e01763-21
Year of Publication: 
O’Toole, G.A., A. Crabbé, R. Kümmerli, J. LiPuma, J. Bomberger, J. Davies, D. Limoli, V. Phelan, J. Bliska, W. DePas, L. Dietrich, T. Hampton, R. Hunter, C. Khursigara, A. Price-Whelan, A. Ashare, R. Cramer, J. Goldberg, F. Harrison, D. Hogan, M. Henson, D. Madden, J. Mayers, C. Nadell, D. Newman, A. Prince, D. Rivett, J. Schwartzman, D. Schultz, D. Sheppard, A. Smyth, M. Spero, B. Stanton, P.E. Turner, C. van der Gast, F. Whelan, R. Whitaker, and K. Whiteson

A recent workshop titled “Developing Models to Study Polymicrobial Infections,” sponsored by the Dartmouth Cystic Fibrosis Center (DartCF), explored the development of new models to study the polymicrobial infections associated with the airways of persons with cystic fibrosis (CF). The workshop gathered 35+ investigators over two virtual sessions. Here, we present the findings of this workshop, summarize some of the challenges involved with developing such models, and suggest three frameworks to tackle this complex problem. The frameworks proposed here, we believe, could be generally useful in developing new model systems for other infectious diseases. Developing and validating new approaches to study the complex polymicrobial communities in the CF airway could open windows to new therapeutics to treat these recalcitrant infections, as well as uncovering organizing principles applicable to chronic polymicrobial infections more generally.