Infectious Disease Research With Global Implications
Like many CHOC Children’s researchers, Dr. Arrieta, CHOC director of pediatric infectious diseases and director of infectious diseases clinical research, divides his time between his clinical practice and his clinical research. He has three different areas of study.
Pneumococcal disease is an infection caused by a bacterium known as pneumococcus. Pneumococcal infections can range from ear and sinus infections to complicated pneumonia, bloodstream infections and meningitis. This disease affects millions worldwide, with the majority of deaths occurring in developing countries including sub-Saharan Africa and Asia.
Dr. Arrieta and his team at CHOC have focused a decade of research studying the effectiveness of two pneumococcal vaccines introduced in the United States and other developed countries. The ultimate goal is to make a stronger argument for the vaccine to be distributed throughout the world to save countless lives.
Dr. Arrieta presented his data on this vital subject at the Asia Pneumococcal Disease Conference in Seoul, Korea in May 2014, as well as at the European Society of Pediatric Infectious Diseases (ESPID) meeting in Dublin, Ireland. In May 2015, his team presented the results of a five-year surveillance study in Orange County at the Pediatric Academic Societies meeting in San Diego.
Bacterial infection diagnosis
The second area of study was inspired by Dr. Arrieta’s role as a clinician. He was troubled by the fact that infants who came through the emergency room with suspected bacterial infections in the bloodstream had to undergo highly invasive tests including spinal taps to diagnose the problem and hospitalized for empiric antibiotic treatment. He conducted a pilot study showing that the inflammatory markers present in the urine of a child with a urinary tract infection are the same markers that are detected in the bloodstream of a child with a bloodstream infection – thus possibly eliminating the need for invasive diagnostic tests. His team is now looking for funds to launch a larger multicenter clinical trial to test this hypothesis.
Dr. Arrieta’s research interests include necrotizing entercolitis, a devastating intestinal disease of prematurity. Instead of waiting for it to develop in these premature infants, he is looking at ways to preemptively identify the inflammatory process associated with the disease and prevent the intestinal damage and mortality often seen with necrotizing enterocolitis– a goal that could change the course of these young lives.