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Repurposing anti-viral immunity to combat Neisseria gonorrhoeae

30 months
Approved budget:
Dr William Kelton
Dr Joanna Hicks
Health issue:
Infectious disease
Proposal type:
Explorer Grant
Lay summary
Pathogenic bacteria such as Neisseria gonorrhoeae reside within human cells and represent a reservoir of infection that is difficult for the host immune system to clear and for antibiotics to access. Compounding this is the global rise of antibiotic resistant infections, with strains of N. gonorrhoeae exhibiting extensive resistance to antibiotics. New approaches, different from conventional antibiotics, are desperately needed to overcome resistance and target bacteria that reside within cells. Our transformative approach is to redirect specialised molecules of the immune system called antibodies to target these bacterial infections within cells. Once antibodies bind the bacteria, we are proposing a degradation pathway mediated by a receptor usually involved in anti-viral responses called TRIM21. Our approach is different to that of conventional antibiotics in that it repurposes the host immune system and has the potential to transform the way in which we treat not just gonorrhoea but many other bacterial infections.