Bacterial Respiratory Infection: Pertussis & Tuberculosis
Dr. Camille Locht holds currently a position as Research Director at the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research (Inserm) and, since 2010, is the founding director of the Center for Infection and Immunity of Lille on the campus of the Institut Pasteur de Lille in France. He has obtained his PhD at the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium in 1984. After a 3-years post-doctoral stay at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease in the USA, where he started to work on pertussis and cloned the pertussis toxin genes, he joined SmithKline – Beecham (now GSK) to help developing acellular pertussis vaccines. Since 1989 he is the head of a research laboratory at the Institut Pasteur de Lille, where he has been the Scientific Director from 2002 to 2013. His research interest is in molecular pathogenesis of respiratory infections, essentially pertussis and tuberculosis, with the long-term aim to develop new tools to combat these diseases. A very powerful molecular typing system for mycobacteria, invented in his laboratory has already reached the market, and a live attenuated nasal pertussis vaccine developed in his laboratory has now successfully completed phase I clinical trials and is currently in clinical development. He also has discovered a protective mycobacterial latency antigen, called heparin-binding haemagglutinin (HBHA), which is now in late stage pre-clinical development as an anti-tuberculosis vaccine candidate. He has authored more than 300 international publications, book chapters and patents and has obtained several research awards.
The research activity is focused on the molecular pathogenesis of bacterial respiratory infections, especially pertussis and tuberculosis, two important global public health problems. The objectives of the team are (i) to study the molecular details of the pathogenic mechanisms of Bordetella pertussis and Mycobacterium tuberculosis and (ii) to use this knowledge to develop novel approaches for better vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics. Our research represents a bi-directional continuum from basic science to applications and clinical investigations. Since the bacterial cell envelope constitutes the pathogen’s interface with the host, the study of the M. tuberculosis and B. pertussis cell envelope is one major area of our research. The second area concerns the transcriptomic and genomic adaptation of the two pathogens to their environment. Finally, the third area corresponds to the translational aspects of our research, in an effort to help developing new vaccines, new antibiotics and new diagnostics.