Professor Kenneth Beagley, IHBI Deputy Director, Institute of Health Biomedical Innovation (IHBI), Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, QLD.
The incidence of chlamydial STIs has increased more than 4-fold in Australia in the last decade, and there are now 10 new cases per hour. More than105 million new cases are recorded each year globally. The cost of chlamydial infections in the Australian community are in excess of $140 million per annum and this is likely an underestimate as more than 70% of infections in women are asymptomatic and go undetected. Chlamydial disease (pelvic inflammatory disease, ectopic pregnancy and infertility) results from an ongoing inflammatory response initiated by an infection that is undetected and untreated. Repeat infections are common and enhance the severity of disease. Only a vaccine is likely to provide long-term protection against chlamydial infection and none are currently available to reverse the epidemic of chlamydial STI. To develop a successful vaccine it will be critical to differentiate between the tissue-damaging immune response, initiated by a natural infection, and the immune response required for protective vaccine-induced immunity. The presentation will discuss the immune mechanisms that cause tissue damage and those that are required for protective immunity.
Ken Beagley is a Professor of Immunology and Deputy Director at the Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation at Queensland University of Technology. He has worked in the area of mucosal immunology for the past 25 years at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and the University of Newcastle prior to moving to QUT. Current research interests focus on immunity to sexually transmitted infections, in particular Chlamydia trachomatis. The aim of these studies is to define and differentiate the immune parameters of immune-mediated inflammatory pathology caused by Chlamydia infection from the immune mechanisms that can protect against chlamydial infection and to use this information to develop effective chlamydial vaccines. This work involves the use of both mouse and guinea pig models of chlamydial infection and has now been extended to include development of a chlamydial vaccine for the koala. The koala vaccine is now being used in wild koalas. In all of these studies novel needle-free vaccination routes such as intranasal, sublingual and transcutaneous immunization, which target immunity to the female and male reproductive tracts are being evaluated alongside conventional injectable methods of immunization. Other research interests include the effects of chlamydial infections on spermatogenesis, ovarian function and the development of reactive arthritis, the development of novel topical microbicide/spermicide dual action therapeutics, development of orally delivered vaccines for genital herpes and modulation of innate and adaptive immunity by sex hormones.