Okey Ndumnego qualified as a veterinarian in Nigeria before proceeding to the University of Pretoria, South Africa, for his postgraduate studies. During his doctoral studies, he evaluated the protective immune responses elicited by recombinant/non-living anthrax vaccine candidates in goat and mouse models. He is currently interested in the prognostic potential of host proteins as TB biomarkers especially in people living with HIV/AIDS. HIV infection is a major risk factor for the development of active TB and predictive biomarkers for the development of HIV-associated TB are urgently needed to optimise timing of TB preventative therapy.
Recently, research at Dr Achkar laboratory at Albert Einstein College of Medicine (AECOM), New York, identified CD14 among a subset of host protein biomarkers able to distinguish TB from other respiratory diseases with high accuracy in both HIV-infected and uninfected subjects. CD14 is a pattern recognition receptor which is present in blood in soluble form (sCD14) following monocytic activation and shedding. However, little is known about how Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) infection activity affects the serum concentration of sCD14 overtime. In the course of his post-doctoral training at AHRI and AECOM, Okechukwu’s research intends to analyse longitudinal sera of South African and US HIV+ cohort subjects for sCD14 levels. This will be a precursor to the development of novel immunoassays for biomarkers which will be amendable to point of care formats.