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Molecular Bacteriology Laboratory

The research line from our lab is multidisciplinary in essence and lies at the crossroad between microbiology, genetics, bioinformatics, immunology, infectious diseases, paediatrics and public health. Most of our current projects use Group A streptococcus (GAS) as our reference model. GAS infections, particularly rheumatic heart disease and invasive infection, are responsible for more than half a million deaths worldwide per year. With no effective control strategies available, a GAS vaccine is urgently needed. Based upon current understanding, the most promising vaccines are strain-specific (emm-type specific). However, the development of a global GAS vaccine is hindered by the large number of circulating emm-types especially in low income settings where serious GAS disease is most common. Recent discoveries offer an exciting new approach to developing vaccines that protect against the broad range of strains across all regions of the world. Animal and in vitro studies suggest that cross'protection can be induced against different emm-types. Our lab has developed a new typing tool, the emm-cluster system, which serves as a framework to investigate this cross-protection phenomenon and has identified coverage gaps in the formulation of the current vaccine candidates. We are currently investigating this phenomenon to develop a new vaccine formulation against GAS.Our lab is also involved with the molecular characterisation of GAS virulence determinants. Starting from clinical isolates responsible for severe streptococcal infection, we are using a multidisciplinary approach to better understand their virulence both at the proteic and genetic level. Finally, our lab is developing new rapid diagnostic test for infectious diseases. Modern molecular techniques offer the potential to provide much more extensive information about the infecting bacteria to inform better decision for the clinician. This information can also be given on a much quicker time scale than classical microbiology testing. Our lab is developing new rapid tests for bacterial pneumonia and acute otitis media.


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