University of British Columbia

Start : July 2013 | Status : Complete

The scientists: Flavia Sorrentino, a postdoctoral fellow working in the research group led by Prof. Yossef Av-Gay, is joining Tres Cantos Open lab to perform a high-throughput screening to identify new small molecules that enable eradication of Mycobacterium tuberculosis that infects immune cells present in our lungs that are called macrophages. Prof. Av-Gay’s laboratory research is focused on the studying biochemical and physiological processes of M. tuberculosis and its interactions with the human host  in order to identify new targets for drug therapy.

The sponsor: The University of British Columbia (UBC), established in 1908, is one of Canada’s leading research universities. The Division of Infectious Diseases in the UBC Department of Medicine is actively involved in combating infectious diseases through patient care, education, and research.

Foundation funding: The Foundation is providing £139,750 in support.

GSK’s contribution: GlaxoSmithKline is providing expertise in High Content Imaging Assays, Biosafety Level 3 facilities and access to the GSK collection of compounds.

Project Description: M. tuberculosis is an obligate intracellular parasite whose success as a pathogen relies on its ability to evade the human immune system by residing and replicating inside macrophages. Data from the Av-Gay lab and others showed that Mtb targets host-signaling pathways to block the macrophage “normal” killing machinery, which is aimed at the isolation and destruction of invading microorganisms. While at the Open Lab, Flavia will perform a new high throughput screening aimed at identifying compounds that could enhance the macrophage ability to kill Mtb. This approach will utilize human macrophages, the “natural” host for Mtb, making this assay more likely to identify disease relevant inhibitors.