top of page

SDS & Science Snapshots (2024-06-08)

In this issue: How do lung microbiomes improve outcomes for bone marrow transplant patients?

Welcome to our timely updates on all things SDS, Science, and Advocacy. We bring you a digest of recent scientific publications, conferences, and other newsworthy content - all relevant to SDS - with links to more details and learning opportunities. Are you interested in anything specific? Did we miss something? Let us know. Email or message us on Facebook! This is all for you!

New Insights into Lung Microbiomes and Bone Marrow Transplant Outcomes

When children undergo bone marrow transplant (BMT), such as those with Shwachman-Diamond Syndrome (SDS), even small infections, such as respiratory infections, can become very dangerous. A team of scientists around the world recently published a new method to quickly identify all the microscopic organisms in the lungs of these children after BMT with the hopes of improving transplant outcomes. 

This collection of microscopic organisms, referred to as the microbiome, includes bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other microbes, that live all over our bodies, including inside the lungs. Just like the gut microbiome, the lung microbiome plays a crucial role in maintaining health and protecting against infections. A balanced lung microbiome helps the immune system function properly, whereas an imbalance can make individuals more susceptible to diseases and infections. The researchers of this study discovered that certain groups of microbes in the lungs can predict which patients after BMT are at higher risk of dying from lung infections.

The video below explores the origin, purpose, and importance of the human microbiome.

Researchers in this new study used a technique called metagenomic next-generation sequencing (mNGS) to examine the microbiome of lung fluid from many pediatric patients after BMT. This method allowed the researchers to find and categorize all the microbes in the samples. Importantly, these researchers identified four different groups of patients based on the types and amounts of microbes in their lungs, helping them predict which children were more likely to suffer severe lung injuries, including lung infections.

Bone marrow transplants can be life-saving interventions for children with leukemia, bone marrow failure, and genetic disorders like SDS. However, the process of BMT involves strong chemotherapy that weakens the immune system and makes these individuals highly susceptible to infections. Unfortunately, these infections can be deadly, especially when patients need ventilators. Traditional tests may miss some pathogens (like bacteria and viruses) that cause these infections after BMT, but mNGS can identify a wide range of microscopic organisms, including rare ones, enabling more accurate treatments and improve outcomes.

By analyzing the mNGS data of these microscopic organisms in the lung microbiome of bone marrow transplant patients, the researchers discovered that patients in the group with the highest risk of death after bone marrow transplant not only had fewer types of microbes in their microbiome, but also had more Staphylococcus bacteria and viruses. This research suggests that a balanced lung microbiome is crucial for better bone marrow transplant outcomes.

For children with Shwachman-Diamond Syndrome (SDS), who are prone to infections and often need bone marrow transplants, these findings are especially important. Understanding the lung microbiome could help doctors better predict and treat infections in these patients. Using mNGS could lead to more precise treatments, improving survival rates for SDS patients undergoing transplants by allowing doctors to quickly identify and address the specific microbes causing infections after bone marrow transplant.


The SDS & Science Snapshot this week contains content modified from materials in this blog post, Lung Microbiomes Predict Mortality in Children Following Bone Marrow Transplant, published the Chan Zuckerburg Biohub Network.


Zinter MS, Dvorak CC, Mayday MY, Reyes G, Simon MR, Pearce EM, Kim H, Shaw PJ, Rowan CM, Auletta JJ, Martin PL, Godder K, Duncan CN, Lalefar NR, Kreml EM, Hume JR, Abdel-Azim H, Hurley C, Cuvelier GDE, Keating AK, Qayed M, Killinger JS, Fitzgerald JC, Hanna R, Mahadeo KM, Quigg TC, Satwani P, Castillo P, Gertz SJ, Moore TB, Hanisch B, Abdel-Mageed A, Phelan R, Davis DB, Hudspeth MP, Yanik GA, Pulsipher MA, Sulaiman I, Segal LN, Versluys BA, Lindemans CA, Boelens JJ, DeRisi JL.

Pediatric Transplantation and Cell Therapy Consortium. Pathobiological signatures of dysbiotic lung injury in pediatric patients undergoing stem cell transplantation. Nat Med. 2024 May 23. PMID: 38783139.  


Do you enjoy the SDS & Science Snapshots? You can Sign up by using the button on the top right of this post:


bottom of page