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Robert Quinn, Assistant Professor at Michigan State University, discusses his research, detailing information on rare bacterial lung infections, anaerobic bacteria infection, and especially cystic fibrosis.

Podcast Points of Discussion:

  • What exactly is cystic fibrosis?
  • How might pure oxygen impact bad bacteria?
  • What are the long term possibilities for a cystic fibrosis patient?

Quinn’s education includes: a PhD in Environmental and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette in Lafayette, LA, an MSc in Microbiology from the University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada, and a BSc in Microbiology, also from the University of Guelph in Canada.

Quinn discusses cystic fibrosis, which he states is a classic genetic disease, and those who are afflicted with it have various mutations in a particular gene. As he explains cystic fibrosis is a hereditary disease that affects the lungs and digestive system.

The body produces thick and sticky mucus that can clog the lungs and obstruct the pancreas. He goes on to discuss some of the commonalities that exist between sick people with cystic fibrosis and the healthy. He discusses the issues in detail, discussing the oral cavity and upper airways. 

Quinn continues his discussion by recounting some experiments he was involved with during his time at San Diego State University. In the experiments, patients would not only breathe oxygen, but they would actually sit in a hyperbaric chamber full of oxygen.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy involves breathing pure oxygen while inside a pressurized room or tube. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is a commonly used treatment for decompression sickness, which is a hazard of scuba diving. While there were potential risks due to the pressurization, the idea was that this environment could possibly kill some unwanted bacteria, such as anaerobic organisms, or anaerobes, which are organisms that do not require oxygen for growth, and thus they may respond negatively or perhaps even die if free oxygen is presented.

Quinn goes on to discuss cross contamination concerns between cystic fibrosis patients due to the fact that they have highly resistant bacteria. He explains broad-spectrum antibiotic use and talks about the pros and cons of various treatments.

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