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Summa Akron City Hospital Researchers Collaborate on a Multicenter, NIH-funded Study to Combat Antibiotic Resistance

Date: 03.16.2011
Contact: Julie Uehara Sur Phone: (330) 375-7117

Contact: Julie Uehara Sur, Phone: (330) 375-7117, Email:

AKRON, Ohio, March 16, 2011 – With widespread overuse and misuse of antibiotic treatments, antibiotic resistance has been called one of the world's most pressing public health problems. Every time a person takes an antibiotic, the bacteria making them sick may be killed, but resistant germs can be left to grow, multiply and spread, which leads to new strains of infectious diseases that are more difficult to cure and more expensive to treat.*

To address the growing problem of antibiotic resistance, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, launched four contracts for large-scale clinical trials. The studies will evaluate treatment alternatives for the diseases antibiotics are prescribed for most, including community-acquired pneumonia, which researchers at Summa Akron City Hospital will be assessing.

"Community-acquired pneumonia is a major cause of serious illness in the US and is the leading cause of death due to infection," said Dr. Thomas File, medical director of Infectious Disease with Summa's Department of Medicine. "This clinical trial will study the benefits of newer and more rapid diagnostic methods that we expect will lead to more targeted antimicrobial therapy and therefore improved patient outcomes and a reduction in antibiotic resistance."

Generally, if a patient is thought to have pneumonia, a physician will order tests to determine if it's a bacterial or viral infection. If it's viral, antibiotics will not work. If it's bacterial, an antibiotic targeting the specific pathogen making the person sick is the best option. However, test results can take a few days to return, so in the meantime, a broad-spectrum antibiotic is often prescribed. Broad-spectrum antibiotics are effective against a wide range of bacteria but also indiscriminately kill off good bacteria and can lead to antibiotic resistance.

"To conduct the study, we'll use new molecular-based tests in the Emergency Department to quickly determine the cause of the pneumonia so we can guide antimicrobial therapy," said Dr. Scott Wilber from Summa's Department of Emergency Medicine. "We'll then compare those results to standard testing results. In the end, if we can provide our patients with more targeted antimicrobial therapy initially, rather than using broad-spectrum regimens, and decrease the number of people taking unnecessary antibiotics, we believe we can reduce the emergence of antibiotic resistant infections."

The molecular tests are advanced technological methods that allow detection of small amounts of nucleic acid, the basic component of DNA, which is specific for microorganisms such as viruses and bacteria. These methods can allow more rapid and accurate detection of the cause of the pneumonia so the best antimicrobial therapy for the pneumonia can be directed more expeditiously.

Drs. File and Wilber are collaborating on the clinical trial with investigators from several institutions, including Johns Hopkins Hospital, University of Louisville Medical Center, Houston VA Medical Center, Beth Israel Medical Center, Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia and the University of Pittsburgh. The protocol for the clinical trial is currently being developed and recruitment for the study is planned to begin winter 2011.

About Summa Health System
Summa Health System is one of the largest integrated healthcare delivery systems in Ohio. Encompassing a network of hospitals, community health centers, a health plan, a physician-hospital organization, a multi-specialty physician organization, research and multiple foundations, Summa is nationally renowned for excellence in patient care and for exceptional approaches to healthcare delivery. Summa's clinical services are consistently recognized by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (Magnet® status), U.S. News and World Report, Thomson Reuters and The Leapfrog Group. Summa also is a founding partner of the Austen BioInnovation Institute in Akron. For more information, visit or find us on Facebook a and Twitter at

*Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: