27 April 2018
Every year, the International Union of Immunological Societies promotes one specific area under the vast umbrella of 'immunology' for International Day of Immunology (April 29).
This year, the focus falls on tuberculosis (TB) - to help raise awareness of the global efforts to find improved treatments for this infectious disease. TB is a bacterial infection caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb), and can take many months of antibiotic treatment to successfully treat. Globally this infection kills over 1.3 million people annually, in part due to the extensive and elaborate treatments needed to fully rid a patient of the bacteria. A more rapid way to treat TB such as a vaccine would therefore save many lives.
While the Malaghan Institute is not actively researching TB, we were recently visited by leading TB researcher and long-time collaborator Dr Alan Sher who is working at the National Institute of Health (Maryland, USA) to find such a treatment. Dr. Sher received his Ph.D from the University of California, San Diego working at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies and did his postdoctoral training at the National Institute for Medical Research in Mill Hill, London.
Dr Sher presented at seminar at the Malaghan Institute titled "Immunometabolic targets for host-directed therapy of tuberculosis," looking at ways to induce host-directed therapy to combat Mtb, to achieve both enhanced and accelerated bacterial clearance.
The Malaghan Institute will continue to have strong ties with Dr. Sher and his work, with our own PhD student Kerry Hilligan accepted to take up a postdoctoral fellowship position at the National Institute of Health under the mentorship of Dr Sher. Kerry will be starting this exciting journey later this year, and her focus will be on understanding the signals which drive robust antibody responses – a key element to a good vaccine.