4 April 2012 00:00 hrs.
Streptococcus pneumonia: virulence and variation

Professor Tim Mitchell  PhD, FRCPath

Chair of Microbiology, Institute of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation, College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences, University of Glasgow


Prof. dr. P.W.M. Hermans, department of Pediatrics

04-04-2012 00:00:00Europe/AmsterdamStreptococcus pneumonia: virulence and variation

Remarks / more information:

Mitchell, TimThe interaction of pathogens with the host is a complex one. Molecular study of the pathogenesis of bacterial infectious diseases can be used to design or modify vaccines and improve therapeutic approaches. Pathogens produce numerous factors which interact with the host during pathogenesis, including capsules, enzymes and toxins.  With the availability of the genome sequences of many bacterial pathogens, we are now able to investigate the pathogenesis of several bacterial infections at the molecular level. A combination of the use of bacterial mutants, animal models and transgenic animal models allows us to probe the host/pathogen interaction. We can then use this information to assist in the design of new vaccines or therapies. Our recent work has been concerned with the molecular mechanisms of disease caused by the gram-positive bacterium  Streptococcus pneumoniae, in particular the study of a number of virulence factors from this organism, including the protein toxin pneumolysin. A detailed structure-function study of this protein allowed the identification of several important functional regions of the toxin. Modification of these regions led to the development of a toxoided protein which is now being evaluated as an addition to the current human vaccine. DNA vaccination provides an attractive alternative to conventional methods of vaccination , and we are developing new delivery vectors to improve and control the nature of the immune response generated in response to these vaccines.

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