Dr Newton’s research programme focuses on tuberculosis – a disease which remains a major challenge to global health and is the leading cause of death from a single infectious agent (Mycobacterium tuberculosis). New diagnostics, vaccines and treatments, and a greater understanding of the pathogenicity, are urgently needed to combat this disease.
Dr Newton's research focuses on investigating host-pathogen interactions in tuberculosis, in particular 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 is currently characterising host gene expression in cellular and whole blood in vitro models in response to mycobacterial infection.
In collaboration with Professor Langford, Dr Li, and Dr Robertson, Imperial College London, Dr Newton has developed, and continues to characterise, a novel model of mycobacterial infection using the larvae of the wax moth, Galleria mellonella. This is the first time that G. mellonella has been used as an infection model for members of the M. tuberculosis complex. The model has the potential to markedly reduce the widely used but inadequate, expensive, time-consuming animal models for evaluating mycobacterial host pathogenicity, and the toxicity and efficacy of novel anti-mycobacterial agents. Funding was awarded through the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animal Models in Research (NC3Rs) for a three year Ph.D. studentship.
Dr Newton has also had 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. 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 Floto, University of Cambridge) 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 Robertson, Imperial College London). In collaboration with Drs Ee (National University of Singapore) and Yang (Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology, Singapore), Professor Langford and Dr Robertson (Imperial College London) and Professor Jenssen (Roskilde University, Denmark) rationally designed antimicrobial peptides and peptoids are being investigated for their efficacy in vitro and in vivo to inhibit M. tuberculosis.
As a co-investigator of a National Institutes of Health (NIH) award to Professor Levin (Imperial College London), Dr Newton is undertaking the validation of promising biomarkers for childhood tuberculosis and their development for future use as diagnostic tests. This is in collaboration with partners in Cape Town, Stellenbosch, Leiden and The Gambia.
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 Sciences and has undertaken a range of teaching for the Imperial College Graduate School. Dr Newton was awarded a higher education teaching qualification (Certificate in 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., 2018, Galleria mellonella - a novel infection model for the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex, Virulence, Vol:9, ISSN:2150-5594, Pages:1126-1137
et al., 2018, Mycobacterium tuberculosis Exploits a Molecular Off Switch of the Immune System for Intracellular Survival, Scientific Reports, Vol:8, ISSN:2045-2322
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:1460-2091, Pages:2181-2191
et al., 2014, 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