Monica Cartelle-Gestal, Ph.D., ILM
University of Georgia Research Foundation, Inc., Athens, GA
Disrupting immunomodulation to improve the immune response to Bordetella spp
Whooping cough, caused by the bacteria Bordetella pertussis, is an old disease reemerging in the modern world. It causes a severe cough and respiratory disease that can last for months and can be fatal in infants and those with a compromised immune system. The currently available vaccine protects against the most severe symptoms, but it is not effective in preventing the transmission of bacteria to other people. The vaccine also does not protect against two other species of Bordetella that also cause disease and can be transmitted from animals to humans. Bacteria are able to alter immune responses to avoid detection and persist in the body. We have identified a gene that is important for the persistence of Bordetella. In this project will begin to unravel the mechanisms by which Bordetella and other bacteria manipulate the immune system. We will use this knowledge to design new, more effective vaccines that will not only protect against disease caused by multiple Bordetella species but also prevent transmission of the bacteria.
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