Infection and Immunity

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Infection and Immunity research at LKCMedicine focuses on exciting and impactful research in the areas of respiratory diseases, anti-microbial resistance, point-of-care diagnostics, and flavivirus infections, which is conducted in a vibrant, collegial and productive environment.
 
Respiratory disease focus
The team is building a collaborative network focused on respiratory diseases with clinicians at Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) and Singapore General Hospital, as well as scientists at NTU’s Singapore Centre for Environmental Life Sciences (SCELSE), DSO National Laboratories, and international partners, including the University of Newcastle, Australia, Imperial College London, United Kingdom, and the Karolinska Institutet, Sweden.
 
  • Prof Annelies Wilder-Smith, a clinician scientist, is leading a Singapore-wide consortium to conduct an Influenza Challenge Study to assess the efficacy of an influenza vaccine developed in Singapore;

 

  • Asst Prof Sanjay Chotirmall, a clinician scientist, studies the damaged lung with a specific focus on the mycobiome in bronchiectasis, a serious lung disease in Asia. He also does translational work in investigating pulmonary diseases such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease to better understand related physiological processes such as immunosenescence and respiratory infection;

 

  • Assoc Prof Kevin Pethe has developed a novel drug for tuberculosis (TB) called Q203, which is entering human trials. He plans to develop novel anti-TB drugs that work together with Q203-like therapeutics to combat multi-drug-resistant TB;

 

  • Asst Prof Guan Xue Li uses systems biology approaches to characterise the lipid metabolic networks of pathogens and the human host, and to scrutinise the roles of lipids during host-pathogen interactions. A key focus is to define the contribution of lipids to the comorbidity of TB and diabetes, which has raised global health alarms; and

 

  • Assoc Prof Eric Yap and his collaborators at DSO are studying Burkholderia pseudomallei, a pathogen common in Singapore that causes fatal pneumonia, especially in the elderly.

 

Antimicrobial resistance

The team is building a collaborative network focused on antibiotic resistance together with clinicians at TTSH, and scientists at NTU’s School of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering (SCBE) and SCELSE, DSO National Laboratories, and the Karolinska Institutet.

  • Assoc Prof Kevin Pethe, with collaborators at TTSH’s Institute of Infectious Diseases and Epidemiology (IIDE) and NTU’s SCBE, is exploring antibiotic resistance mechanisms in Gram-negative bacteria and plans to use pharmacology and bacteriophages to combat these superbugs;
  • Assoc Prof Kevin Pethe, Nanyang Asst Prof Luo Dahai and Prof George Chandy, with their collaborators at IIDE, are studying molecular mechanisms that couple metabolic sensing to membrane potential regulation in bacteria. Their goal is to develop novel antibiotics that target these biochemical systems in bacteria; and
  • Asst Prof Guan Xue Li, with collaborators at IIDE and TTSH, is studying the roles of lipids in antimicrobial resistance.

Point-of-care diagnostics

  • Assoc Prof Eric Yap, a clinician scientist, is exploiting novel PCR and optofluidic technologies to analyse variation in human, bacterial and viral genomes, with the aim of developing extremely fast molecular methods for diagnosing and characterising pathogens and microbiomes. These would have applications for field labs, in low resource settings and at point-of-care.

Flavivirus (Dengue, Chikungunya, Zika)

  • Nanyang Asst Prof Luo Dahai studies the molecular mechanisms of flaviviral infection and host defense, specifically on RNA viral recognition and replication. His goal is to develop novel immune adjuvants, new vaccines and improved diagnostics;
  • Asst Prof Yeo Tsin Wen, a clinician scientist, is studying vascular dysfunction in dengue and malaria infections, and is developing approaches to identify, within a clinical setting, patients who will develop severe complications; and
  • Prof Annelies Wilder-Smith, a clinician scientist, is focused on integrated surveillance early warning systems, novel diagnostic assays for resource-limited settings, novel tools for vector surveillance, and is assessing the effectiveness of repellent-impregnated uniforms in reducing dengue burden amongst school children, She is also collaborating with mathematical modellers to model the risk of international spread of dengue, Zika and chikungunya.

 

Other areas of interest
  • Asst Prof Yeo Tsin Wen, a clinician scientist, is using epidemiology, clinical trials, and cutting-edge genetics to study the pathogenesis of Plasmodium knowlesii malaria, in Eastern Malaysia. He also studies the pathogenic mechanisms of tuberculous meningitis in Eastern Malaysia and uses the One Health approach to identify and risk-stratify novel, emerging zoonotic pathogens;

 

  • Asst Prof Guan Xue Li is developing next-generation lipidomics approaches to characterise lipids in diverse pathogens and the human hosts. With collaborators at IIDE, TTSH and the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, she aims to identify novel metabolite-based biomarkers and drug targets for infectious diseases; and

 

  • Prof George Chandy, a clinician scientist, has developed a therapeutic for autoimmune diseases that is in human trials. With collaborators at SNEC, A*STAR and NTU-MSE, he uses a multidisciplinary approach to develop therapeutics for ocular surface inflammatory diseases and fibrosis by targeting potassium channels.