Grants awarded

Host recognition and clearance of Pneumocystis: investigating immune mediators and mechanisms

Grantholder:

Dr Jennifer Claire Hoving

University of Cape Town

South Africa

Pneumocystis jirovecii is an unusual fungus, which takes advantage of a weakened immune system and causes pneumonia in people with AIDS. Despite the high numbers of HIV-infected people in sub-Saharan Africa, the rates of Pneumocystis jirovecii pneumonia appears to be lower than expected. This is thought to be due to the diagnostic challenges faced by low-income countries. However, results from the Drakenstein Child Health Study, which has tracked pneumonia cases in 1,000 infants in South Africa, suggests that other organisms commonly found in sub-Saharan African populations could help to recognise and clear Pneumocystis.

I have used a mouse model of disease to show that these organisms can trigger an early immune response and clear Pneumocystis. My study will identify these organisms and characterise the immune response they trigger.

Finding new pathways for Pneumocystis clearance could lead to better therapeutic interventions.

This grant was awarded under the scheme's previous name of Intermediate Fellowships in Public Health and Tropical Medicine.