Researchers at NYU Langone Medical Center will lead a consortium of five institutions on a $6.5 million contract from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) directed at discovery of the fundamental immunology, microbial genetics, protein structure and proteomics of Staphylococcus aureus.
S. aureus and methicillin-resistant staph aureus (MRSA) continue to be among the most common pathogens that overwhelm the immune system, causing serious skin, soft tissue and life-threatening blood-borne infections.
Between 1999 and 2005, the rate of MRSA-related hospital discharges has doubled, from 3.9 to 8.0 per 1000 hospitalizations in the U.S., with more than an estimated 10,000 fatal infections each year, according to the most recent Federal health statistics. The development of multiple antibiotic resistance has made treating this pathogen increasingly challenging.
“The overarching goal of our work is the identification of all of the S. aureus antigens that are fundamental to effective immune defenses,” said Gregg Silverman, MD, Professor of Medicine and Pathology at NYU Langone, and principal investigator of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases five-year contract. “Our research group at NYU will use an advanced and comprehensive experimental strategy that combines proteomic and genetic approaches for candidate antigen discovery.”
Dr. Silverman heads NYU Langone’s Laboratory of B-Cell Immunology, and has pioneered investigations of the immunobiology and host interactions with the staphylococcal toxin, Staphylococcal protein A (SpA).
Three additional NYU Langone laboratory research groups will work on the contract. These include the Laboratory for Staph Pathogenesis, Proteomics Core Lab, and the Clinical and Bacteriology Core Laboratory.
“We are grateful to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for its generous support of this work,” Dr. Silverman said. “We hope that with a better understanding of the mechanisms underlying Staph aureus, we may move closer to developing an effective vaccine or immune therapeutic against this pathogen.”
Three other clinical institutions are participating in this endeavor: the Hospital for Special Surgery, Bellevue Hospital Center, and Vanderbilt University, while University of California-San Diego is supporting certain specialized computational analyses.
Source: NYU Langone Medical Center / New York University School of Medicine, adapted.