Because more than 25% of patients with ataxia-telangiectasia (A-T) develop some form of chronic lung disease, the A-T Children’s Project has awarded a fellowship grant to Abrey Yeo, PhD in Australia to examine the mixture of bacteria found in the airways of individuals with A-T.

Even healthy people have numerous types of bacteria in their lungs, but Dr. Yeo is interested in identifying imbalances between the types of bacteria in the lungs of patients with A-T that may predispose them to problems. In particular, because not having a functioning A-T protein makes the cells of people with A-T more vulnerable to oxidative stress caused by free radicals, Dr. Yeo will determine whether the lung bacteria in A-T-related lung disease generate excessive free radicals.

Working in Professor Martin Lavin’s laboratory at the University of Queensland, Dr. Yeo’s unique approach may reveal specific bacteria populations that are responsible for lung problems in A-T and suggest treatment approaches to help people with A-T live longer, healthier lives.

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