LSU School of Veterinary Medicine researcher receives two grants worth $400,000
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 26, 2016
BATON ROUGE - Smriti Mehra, PhD, assistant professor- research in Pathobiological Sciences (PBS), has recently been awarded two grants issued from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for her work on pulmonary infection (Tuberculosis). The accumulative amount of $400,000 will be used to support Dr. Mehra’s research and technician support.
The first research project is entitled, “Correlates of Protection from TB and TB/AIDS comorbidity,” and is for $237,215. The duration of this project is from July 1st, 2016 – June 30, 2018. The project’s goal is to utilize banked NHP samples from BCG and MtbDsigH vaccination to identify T cell based correlates of protection.
The second research project is entitled, “Characterization of Protective Immunity to MTB in a setting of HIV Co-infection,” and is for $166,537. The duration of this project is from July 1st, 2016 – June 30, 2018. The project’s goal is to utilize banked NHP samples from BCG and MtbDsigH vaccination to identify B cell based correlates of protection using state of the art microdissection, sequencing and B cell transcriptomics/repertoire analysis on granuloma’s from TB infected lungs of macaques.
“Infection with Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) can lead to active TB, causing 1.5 million deaths annually,” said Dr. Mehra. “This is despite the fact that a large majority of infected individuals either control infection latently or eliminate it entirely. The failure to control TB is due to the lack of an effective vaccine.”
While BCG is the anti-TB vaccine in worldwide use for almost a century, it is ineffective at generating long-lived memory T cell responses necessary to protect against adult lung TB. It is necessary to better define correlates of protection from human pulmonary TB so that newer vaccines can be properly evaluated. These projects solely focuses on the correlates of immunity elicited by an attenuated Mycobacterium tuberculosis strain.
Recent work has shown that MtbDsigH, a mutant lacking the stress-response regulator SigH, is completely attenuated for survival in macaque lungs, and elicits profound and productive lung immune responses. Dr. Mehra’s lab is trying to identify T cell and B cell specific of immunity in macaques vaccinated with DsigH, relative to BCG vaccinated or unvaccinated animals, both prior to and after Mtb challenge. Furthermore, they will also study if these protection-associated responses are retained in the setting of SIV co-infection.
Dr. Mehra has been working at the LSU SVM since October 2013 and studying TB since 2007. She has joint appointment in the department of Pathobiological Sciences at the LSU SVM and in the Division of Microbiology at the Tulane National Primate Research Center.
For more information about Dr. Mehra’s research, click here. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/myncbi/browse/collection/44707314/?sort=date&direction=ascending
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