Think zinc! Discovering new ways to fight infectious disease - Claudia Stocks

26 Mar 2018

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In an age of growing antibiotic resistance, there is an urgent need to uncover new strategies to treat infectious disease. An emerging area of research (immunotherapy) aims to enhance the bodies’ own immune system to reduce reliance on traditional therapies. My research examines cells of the innate immune system (macrophages) and their interaction with bacteria (such as E. coli). Through the development of new tools, including red and green fluorescent bacteria, I have discovered that during infection, macrophages subject engulfed E. coli to high levels of the metal ion zinc. Whilst low levels of zinc are essential for survival, at high concentrations it can be extremely toxic. I am currently investigating the mechanisms by which macrophages deploy toxic zinc against invading pathogens. Targeting this pathway may prove to be highly effective against persistent bacteria, and could be harnessed to improve the health and survival of humans or even livestock.

If you would like to learn more about macrophages and the antimicrobial strategies they deploy against bacteria, you can check our recent review on the subject -

For when bacterial infections persist: Toll-like receptor-inducible direct antimicrobial pathways in macrophages. Claudia J Stocks, Mark A Schembri, Matthew J Sweet, Ronan Kapetanovic

Claudia Stocks - @claudiajades

 

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