Characterising immune signatures in recent asymptomatic Mycobacteria (Mtb) infection to reveal correlates of protection in Mtb infection and TB disease

Maseema and his team aim to uncover immune correlates of protection in subclinical Mycobacterial tuberculosis (Mtb) infection and TB disease. The majority of individuals who are exposed to Mtb infection successfully contain the infection whereby only an immunological memory remains as identified by Interferon gamma release assays and other latent TB tests. Therefore, the immune signature in the majority of recently infected individuals will be associated with protection as only 5-10% results in active TB cases. Maseema will first use a flow cytometry assay that distinguishes recent subclinical TB from latent/remote TB infection to identify individuals who are recently infected with Mtb in a pool of already collected samples from a large cohort of hundreds of “healthy” participants, and thereafter, using non-bias approach i.e. sequencing, he will identify immune signatures in this group. This will reveal which markers contribute to protection versus those contributing to pathology. He hypothesises that T-helper 17 cells are associated with immune protection at early infection phase.

SANTHE is an Africa Health Research Institute (AHRI) flagship programme funded by the Science for Africa Foundation through the DELTAS Africa programme; the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Gilead Sciences Inc.; and the Ragon Institute of Mass General, MIT, and Harvard.