The research in my group focuses on respiratory and/or meningitis-causing pathogens of man, e.g. Neisseria meningitidis, Haemophilus influenzae and Mycobacterium tuberculosis, and animals e.g. Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae (APP), Haemophilus parasuis, Pasteurella multocida. Dependent on the pathogen, the aims are to improve vaccines, diagnostics, therapeutics and a greater understanding of the basis of bacterial pathogenicity. A major focus of our work is on the pig pathogen APP carried out in collaboration with Professor Andrew Rycroft (Royal Veterinary College London). We have developed high throughput genome wide mutagenesis protocols and screens (based on Transposon Directed Insertion site Sequencing [TraDIS]) to identify APP genes essential for growth in vitro and in vivo, with a view to developing novel antimicrobial and vaccine strategies. The methods developed are applicable to other pathogenic members of the Pasteurellaceae i.e. Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans, H. influenzae, Mannheimia haemolytica, and P. multocida.
In collaboration with Dr Anastasia Callaghan (University of Portsmouth) and Professor Denise Bazzolli (University of Viçosa, Brazil) we are evaluating whether inhibition of sRNAs of APP is a viable control strategy. Other collaborations include that with the UK Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) and the Wellcome Trust Sanger Centre, where we have identified in APP (1) plasmid borne dfr14 genes (mediating resistance to trimethoprim), the first description in any member of the Pasteurellaceae; and (2) sequenced plasmids mediating florfenicol resistance and ampicillin. Additionally, in a collaboration involving Drs Ee (National University of Singapore) and Yang (Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology, Singapore), and Drs Sandra Newton and Brian Robertson (Imperial College London), rationally designed antimicrobial peptides are being tested for their efficacy in vitro and in vivo to inhibit M. tuberculosis.
In addition, we are seeking vaccine candidates that will prevent disease caused by Neisseria meningitidis serogroup B infections. Monoclonal antibodies are derived from patients recovering from meningococcal disease, and the proteins recognised on the surface of the bacterium determined.
Sancho Shimizu V, A rare mutation in SPLUNC1 underlies meningococcal disease affecting bacterial adherence and invasion, Clinical Infectious Diseases, ISSN:1058-4838
et al., 2019, Pathotyping the zoonotic pathogen streptococcus suis: Novel genetic markers to differentiate invasive disease-associated isolates from non-disease-associated isolates from England and Wales, Journal of Clinical Microbiology, Vol:57, ISSN:0095-1137
Menikou S, Langford P, Levin M, 2019, Kawasaki disease: the role of immune complexes revisited, Frontiers in Immunology, Vol:10, ISSN:1664-3224
et al., 2019, Use of the invertebrate Galleria Mellonella as an infection model to study the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex, Jove-journal of Visualized Experiments, ISSN:1940-087X