In this project, we are investigating whether the gut microbiome influence inflammation and the health state of patients with SCD

Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR)

Antimicrobial agents are the cornerstones that have revolutionized modern medicine in many respects. Regrettably, their use has been accompanied by rapid development of resistance strains. Recent estimates suggest that AMR related infections kills 50,000 people a year in the UK and is expected to lead to the deaths of 700,000 people globally. More data is needed to support the need for more urgent action against AMR particularly in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). More deaths are likely to occur to occur in LMICs as a result of AMR related infections. This greater risk is due to the lack of effective AMR surveillance systems; and thus, data is not readily available to support action.

Our goal is to contribute to AMR efforts by generating essential primary data on AMR drivers (eg. antibiotic use and misuse, water sanitation and hygiene (WASH) – related risks, epidemiology of resistance genes and resistant organisms (Escherichia coli, Klebsiella spp., Salmonella spp., Shigella spp., and Pseudomonas spp.) in communities in LMICs. We are also developing machine learning tools to translate the data collected into models and a surveillance tool that can predict the sources of AMR, evolutionary and transmission patterns. In our studies, we adopt a one health approach and investigate AMR among humans, animals and the environment including the food chain.

Sickle Cell Disease

Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) was first described in the early 1900 and later described as an inherited  monogenic disorder. It affects humans mostly of African descent. In Africa, about 95% of children born with SCD usually die before age five. To date, there is no treatment for the disease. Patients with SCD experience vaso-occlusive crisis (VOCs) resulting in acute and chronic pain and other complications. Chronic inflammation is a major driver of sickle pain in SCD.

The microbiome is the collection of bacteria in our body. In numbers, these bacteria outnumber our cells making it the ‘largest organ’. Alterations in the gut microbiota or dysbiosis, is a known driver of chronic inflammation, but have not been explored in SCD. Recently, a role of the gut microbiome in the occurrence of vaso-occlusive crisis (VOC) was described but detailed of the mechanisms remains to be determined.

In this project we seek to develop a robust surveillance for AMR based on the drivers, genomics and distribution of antibiotic resistant bacteria in communities.