The scientist: Estefanía Urdániz is a PhD Student in the IQUIBICEN- Department of biological chemistry, University of Buenos Aires, supervised by the PI of the project Dr. Mariana Piuri.
Estefania has constructed a new improved generation of FP carrying a modified mCherrybomb gene. Also, she set up the conditions for detection of M.tb by automated fluorimetry for extracellular activity testing of compounds. Phage infection in a multiwell format was standardized and MICs were determined for a wide range of drugs currently used for TB treatment with different targets in the bacteria. Recently, she has been working on the development of an infection assay in eukaryotic cells, using macrophages and pulmonary epithelial cells. She is also working in the automatization of this cell infection assay for intracellular screening of several compounds at the same time.
The sponsor: IQUIBICEN-CONICET, Department of Biological Chemistry, School of Exact and Natural Science, University of Buenos Aires.
Foundation funding: The Foundation is providing £40,636 in support.
GSK’s contribution: Access to GSK TB compounds set for screening. GSK will also contribute its extensive experience in extracellular and intracellular in vitro compound screening against Mycobacterium tuberculosis. GSK will also provide its expertise in in vivo studies and access to facilities for in vitro and in vivo studies.
Project Description: Tuberculosis (TB) is a major cause of human mortality; approximately two billion people are infected with the causative agent, Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M.tb). The emergence of resistant strains has become a serious public health problem worldwide complicating treatment and control of the disease.
The development of reporter mycobacteriophages was described as a simple means of revealing the metabolic state of M. tb cells, and therefore their response to antibiotics.
Based on this innovative approach, our aim is to develop a simple and rapid methodology that can speed the process of discovery of new anti-TB drugs. This phage-technology can be used for both in vitro and in vivo activity testing of compounds in a full-scale, fast and sensitive assay.