Associate, Department of Microbiology & Immunology
While working in Tugela Ferry, South Africa during my medical training I experienced the global health emergency of the syndemic of Tuberculosis and HIV.
Currently I am working on Tuberculosis drug target discovery, TB-HIV vaccine development and the TB-Human Challenge model project using genetic tools developed by the Jacobs lab to better understand virulence, pathogenesis and vaccine potential of selected Mycobacterium tuberculosis mutants.
Understanding the mechanism of virulence of TB, will lead to better prevention with new and more effective vaccines, faster diagnosis and new, cheaper and better treatments.
1) Tuberculosis drug target discovery: We are excited about our recent findings published in PNAS on a potential novel drug target in the methionine/SAM biosynthesis pathway of M. tuberculosis. Our results are very promising, as they show rapid in vitro sterilization of a M. tuberculosis methionine auxotroph as well as a complete lack of virulence in immunocompetent andimmunocompromised mice. The discovery of new drugs will be crucial to saving lives in our globalized world and protecting public health systems against the growing threat of worldwide antibiotic resistance in M. tuberculosis.
2) Pre-clinical TB and TB/HIV vaccine development. The goal is to generate safer, more immunogenic BCG strains, which can be translated into a vaccine vector for TB, HIV and potentially other infectious diseases.
3) Human Challenge Project: We hypothesize that it is possible to generate a safe, non-persistent, M. tuberculosis challenge strain that can be used in humans to predict vaccine efficacy. A means to experimentally determine which vaccine candidates should be used in Phase II/III clinical trials is urgently needed.
Berney M, Berney-Meyer L, Wong K, Chen B, Chen M, Kim J, Wang J, Harris D, Parkhill J, Chan J, Wang F, Jacobs WR Jr. Essential Roles of Methionine and S-adenosylmethionine in the Autarkic Lifestyle of Mycobacterium tuberculosis. PNAS 2015 Aug.112(32):10008-13.
Hart BE, Asrican R, Lim SY, Sixsmith JD, Lukose R, Souther SJ, Rayasam SD, Saelens JW, Chen CJ, Seay SA, Berney-Meyer L, Magtanong L, Vermeul K, Pajanirassa P, Jimenez AE, Ng TW, Tobin DM, Porcelli SA, Larsen MH, Schmitz JE, Haynes BF, Jacobs WR Jr, Lee S, Frothingham R. Stable Expression of Lentiviral Antigens by Quality-Assured Recombinant BCG Vectors. Clin Vaccine Immunol. 2015 Apr 29. pii: CVI.00075-15.
Berney-Meyer L, Hung N, Slatter T, Schollum J, Kitching R, Walker R. Omeprazole-Induced Acute Interstitial Nephritis: Th1-Th17 mediated? Nephrology. 2014 June; 19 (6): 307–368. (Front page)
Berney-Meyer L, Putt T, Schollum J, WalkerR, Nephrotoxicity of recreational party drugs. Nephrology. 2012 Feb;17(2):99-103.
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