Investigating the diversity, molecular epidemiology, competitive influence and therapeutic potential of pneumococcal bacteriocins using large genome datasets


  • Prof Angela Brueggemann

    Imperial College London

Project summary

Genomics has revolutionised science and medicine. It is now possible to obtain all the genetic information about bacteria and use that information to understand how bacteria cause disease, become resistant to antibiotics and evade the immune system. Infectious diseases are a leading cause of death in early childhood. Pneumonia is the most common and an estimated 1.3 million children worldwide died of pneumonia in 2013. The leading cause of pneumonia is the pneumococcus and it is also a major cause of paediatric meningitis and bacteraemia.

My research is on bacteriocins, which are antibiotics produced by bacteria to kill other bacteria. Pneumococci have many different bacteriocins and it is unclear why they need so many different types. We are investigating whether it might be to compete with other pneumococci and other bacterial species in the body.

If we understand these relationships better it will help us to understand the consequences of disturbing their natural dynamics, for example when we give vaccines to children. It may also be possible to develop these bacteriocins as novel antibiotics, which is important in the context of the global problem of antibiotic resistance and the need for new treatment options.