The Burgio Group - Genome Editing and Genetics of Host-Pathogens Interactions

Bacteria or parasite resistant to multiple drugs is a growing concern and affects many patients worldwide every year. There is an urgent need to find novel treatment to improve the care of people as bacteria or parasites are becoming resistant to all existing antimicrobial. Novel and innovative strategies are desperately needed to solve this important problem. Our research aims to better understand how antimicrobial resistance occurs in microorganisms and how to find new therapies.

Our research focuses on three majors themes:

Theme 1: Exploring CRISPR systems diversity

Novel precision genetic technologies such as genome engineering offer novel avenues to a better understanding of the interactions between host and pathogens. Using CRISPR/Cas9, we are able to precisely and efficiently target any modification of the mouse and the pathogen genomes to study genes of interest. We are interested in exploring the diversity of the CRISPR systems and others anti-viral or plasmid defense systems for adaptive immunity. We combine a computational biology with a genetic approach to explore and understand the mechanisms of adaptive immunity in bacteria and harness these systems as gene editing tools.

Theme 2: Uncovering the genetics of the host response to multidrug resistant bacteria

Hospital acquired infections are caused by bacteria, viruses and fungi. These infections are strongly increasing in prevalence to 1 in 25 patients in Europe or in the US. Over 700,000 patients in the US a year contract hospital-acquired infection. Most of these hospital-acquired infections are caused by ‘superbugs’, bacteria that are multi resistant to antibiotics. Superbugs and the lack of novel antibiotics on the market is a growing concern. We are interested in understanding how a multi-resistant bacteria invade, persist in and adapt to the host environment. Our particular interest is the elucidation of the host-pathogens interactions for bacteria such as Enterococcus, Staphylococcus aureus or Acinetobacter baumannii

Theme 3: Investigation of the host response to malaria infection

Malaria infection is the third deadliest disease worldwide and a treatment is desperately needed. Malarial parasites have led to selected mutations showing an increase in the gene pool of human population living in endemic regions and these mutations render the human population more resistant to malaria. We are interested in understanding the mechanisms of resistance to the malaria parasite after invading  red blood cells and how the host has developed resistance to the parasite.

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