Bacterial pathogenesis: molecular mechanisms to prevention
Human bacterial pathogens are a specialized subset of the array microbes we encounter as part of our flora. The group seeks to understand the basis of how pathogens colonise specific niches in the body, evade elimination by the immune system, and cause disease. We study Neisseria spp., which are leading causes of bacterial meningitis and gonorrhoea, and enteric pathogens, such as Shigella spp.. Many of these pathogens possess plasmids which confer virulence and/or resistance, and we are now defining mechanisms that promote plasmid maintenance. For example, we have defined the repertoire of toxin:antitoxin (TA) systems in the Shigella virulence plasmid, and distribution of resistance plasmids in the gonococcus.
Understanding fundamental aspects of plasmid biology should allow use to design interventions to eliminate virulence/resistance. We also continue to develop vaccines against these important pathogens.
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