Investigating how iron might mediate the relationship between severe anaemia and invasive bacterial infections in Kenyan children


  • Kelvin Abuga

    KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme

Project summary

Severe anaemia and bacterial infections cause sickness and death affecting millions of children in Africa. Children with severe anaemia are more likely to get serious bacterial infections, especially with certain bacteria. Bacteria require iron to grow and our defences keep iron away from bacteria. 

I will find out if disturbances in the normal handling of iron when a child has severe anaemia might be responsible for an increase in bacterial infections. I will investigate how severe anaemia and bacterial infections are related and how imbalances in blood iron and our defence systems might underpin that relationship. I will use stored information and samples from hospitalised children spanning more than 20 years. I will also describe how different blood and iron levels influence the growth of bacteria, and how bacteria respond to these blood levels. 

My findings may influence the treatment and management options of children with severe anaemia.

This grant was awarded under the scheme’s previous name of Master’s Fellowship in Public Health and Tropical Medicine.