Tuberculosis is an infectious disease caused by the mycobacteria Mycobacterium tuberculosis and it is one of the top 10 causes of mortality worldwide. According to the last WHO tuberculosis report (2017), TB is the largest killer among communicable diseases in the 15 to 49 age group, when humans are most productive. This makes it necessary to develop a new strategy to improve the only vaccine available to date, the Bacille Calmette-Guerin (BCG), which is not able to confer protection to the infection in adults.
In this sense, our group participates on a European H2020 project, “Eliciting Mucosal Infection in Tuberculosis” (EMI-TB), for the development of a new vaccine against the infection through mucosal immunization. The project´s overall objective is to design a vaccine that can induce a broad-ranging immune response to Mtb both systemically and in the lung´s mucosa and provide the currently missing links in protective immunity to this pathogen.
As part of this project, our group works in the identification of biomarkers of protective immune responses in human subjects exposed to Mtb and the characterization of the metabolic routes involved in this responses. We are using high throughput technologies, specifically RNAseq, to identify a gene expression profile of the Tuberculosis infection in pulmonary TB patients and their contacts.
We are also working on animal models to test the protection conferred by the vaccine candidates and the characterization of the immune responses generated by the vaccination. We are specially focused on the T-cell response at a lung level in order to identify the correlates of protections.