Dr Newton’s research programme focuses on tuberculosis which remains a major challenge to global health. This is particularly due to the close association of the disease with the HIV pandemic, and the emergence of multidrug resistant and extensive drug-resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis requiring longer and more toxic drug regimens.
Her research on tuberculosis predominantly focuses on investigating host-pathogen interactions – in particular on dissecting the underlying functional and molecular mechanisms of mycobacterial host immune subversion. Understanding these mechanisms will have important implications for the design of new vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutic approaches to control tuberculosis.
Dr Newton has recently investigated mycobacterial genotype-phenotype relationships of outbreak strains of Mycobacterium tuberculosis which provided new insight into the mechanisms of mycobacterial immune subversion with Professor Robert Wilkinson, Imperial College London/University of Cape Town; the relationship between vitamin D and tuberculosis, and the role of neutrophils and their antimicrobial peptides in innate resistance to tuberculosis with Dr Adrian Martineau, Imperial College London/Barts and the London; and she is currently characterising host gene expression in cellular and whole blood in vitro models in response to mycobacterial infection with Professor Michael Levin, Imperial College London.
In addition Dr Newton also has a keen interest in the discovery of new drugs targeting tuberculosis, since undertaking her Ph.D. to evaluate natural products used in traditional medicine to treat this disease. Recent collaborative projects to identify new drugs, drug targets and in vitro models to conduct antimycobacterial drug assessments have included; investigating FDA approved anticonvulsant drugs that were able to stimulate autophagic killing of intracellular bacilli through a novel evolutionary conserved mTOR independent pathway (Professor R. Andres Floto, University of Cambridge); the development of a human in vitro granuloma model for rapid screening of antimycobacterial agents using a novel jet spraying engineering technique (Professor Paul Langford, Imperial College London; Dr Suwan Jayasinghe, UCL); and the use of a functional whole blood/cellular assay using luminescent reporter-gene tagged mycobacteria to characterise immune responses and determine mycobacterial survival in human blood/cells in response to antimycobacterial and immune-modulating agents (Dr Brian Robertson; Professor Beate Kampmann, Imperial College London).
Currently through a collaborative joint National University of Singapore-Imperial College Ph.D. studentship programme, she is also undertaking a proof of concept study to investigate antimycobacterial cationic polymers and self-assembled peptide nanoparticles (Professor Paul Langford and Dr Brian Robertson, Imperial College London and Professor Rachel Ee, National University of Singapore).
Dr Newton undertakes a variety of teaching at Imperial College London. She is a co-module leader for the Paediatric Infectious Diseases and Allergy module on the MBBS intercalated BSc course in Reproductive and Developmental Biology and a tutor for The Graduate Schools on the Research Skills Development (RSD) course and the Advanced Presentation Skills (APS) course. Due to her continued interest in teaching, Dr Newton was awarded a higher education teaching qualification (Certificate of Advanced Study in Learning and Teaching (CASLAT) and is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA). She has supervised many undergraduate and postgraduate students.
et al., 2015, Functional drug screening reveals anticonvulsants as enhancers of mTOR-independent autophagic killing of Mycobacterium tuberculosis through inositol depletion, EMBO Molecular Medicine, Vol:7, ISSN:1757-4676, Pages:127-139
et al., 2016, Unnatural amino acid analogues of membrane-active helical peptides with anti-mycobacterial activity and improved stability, Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, Vol:71, ISSN:0305-7453, Pages:2181-2191
et al., 2018, &IT Mycobacterium tuberculosis&IT Exploits a Molecular &ITOffSwitch&IT of the Immune System for Intracellular Survival, Scientific Reports, Vol:8, ISSN:2045-2322