Research News - Dr. Schorey's Gates Award
Dr. Jeff Schorey (left), Professor of Biological Sciences, Steering Committee member of the Center for Rare and Neglected Diseases, Associate Director of the Eck Institute for Global Health.
Dr. Jeff Schorey receives funding from The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
As part of the Grand Challenges in Global Health initiative, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has created a new grant program to identify biomarkers for diagnosing tuberculosis. Dr. Jeff Schorey along with Dr. Karen Dobos at Colorado State University and collaborators at the University of California at San Francisco received one of only ten funded projects.
The team has been funded to develop exosomes for TB diagnostics. Exosomes are vesicles or sacs that contain protein and other cellular material and function in intercellular communication. They make attractive targets for diagnostics because they can be found in many different bodily fluids (so samples can easily be taken) and when isolated from TB patients, contain specific components from the pathogen. In related work, Schorey and colleagues also found that exosomes make good vaccine candidates as they contain specific TB proteins that stimulate the human immune system.
Tuberculosis is caused by the pathogen Mycobacterium tuberculosis and although there are antibiotics that can treat most cases of TB, many patients still go untreated. This is due in part to the limited sensitivity of current diagnostic test. Surprisingly nearly half of all TB cases go undiagnosed.
(Left) Electron micrograph of exosomes isolated from the serum of a TB patient
In 2007 through a serendipitous discovery, Schorey and his team detected bio-signatures from the TB pathogen that were released from infected cells on exosomes. Through a collaboration with Dr. Karen Dobos the team identified pathogen-associated signatures from TB-infected patients. The purpose of the grant awarded through the Biomarkers for the Diagnosis of Tuberculosis is to define biomarkers that can identify active TB patients and to begin developing a detection platform that can be used as a point-of-care diagnostic test for TB.
By Dr. Pamela Tamez, CRND Director of External Programs.
Rare Diseases: those which afflict less than 200,000. Examples are cystic fibrosis, thalassemia, Niemann-Pick Type C Disease, adrenolekodistrophy and several forms of cancer.
Neglected Diseases: diseases of poverty, lymphatic filariasis disease pathologies of TB and Malaria.
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