My main interest is in the host-bacterial interactions and the development of complex in vitro tissue culture systems
1. Understanding inflammatory processes in ovine footrot
Footrot is a bacterial infection of the interdigital skin of the sheep foot that results in lameness, where the primary causal agent is the anaerobic bacterium Dichelobacter nodosus. The disease is the greatest welfare and economic concern for sheep farmers and veterinarians worldwide. In England, more than 95% of sheep flocks have footrot, with a mean daily prevalence of ~10% and an estimated cost to the UK sheep industry of £24 - £84 million per annum.
Our research aims to tackle this costly disease by addressing the need for a better understanding of the pathogenesis of footrot, particularly host/pathogen interaction, which will help to inform the design and delivery of novel therapeutic and vaccine approaches, with the ultimate aim of facilitating strategic effective vaccine development. This aligns with solutions to food security, reducing antibiotic usage in meat production and the potential for resistance ultimately secure animal welfare and supply of good quality food'.
2. Listeriosis in cattle
The intracellular pathogen Listeria monocytogenes is of major importance to global food security and of public health relevance. L. monocytogenes is foodborne pathogen but also impacts on the reproductive performance of beef and dairy cattle. Infection in ruminants manifests as keratoconjunctivitis or bacteraemia, which can lead to abortion or meningitis, hence causing production losses due to calf losses through abortion and extra veterinary bills, whilst delaying conception, compromising herd health and reducing milk yield after abortion leading to an average cost of £630 per abortion in a dairy herd.
Our research focuses on host pathogen interactions in conjunctival and reproductive tissues using tissue and organ culture models.
Other research interests:
Role of Toll-like receptors (TLRs) in host-bacteria interactions
The innate immune system is of crucial importance for achieving homeostasis in the intestinal environment and the host response to pathogens. Toll–like receptors (TLRs) are a family of membrane receptors that recognize a wide range of pathogen associated molecular patterns (PAMPs). We are studying the modulation of TLR expression and cytokine production due to interactions with probiotics and/or pathogens.
1. Interactions of epithelial intestinal cells with commensals and pathogens (incl Clostridium difficile, Salmonella, Vibrio etc)
2. Interaction of bovine caruncular epithelia cells with abortifacient pathogens Leptospira
3. Effect of probiotics on weaning stress in pigs
Development of complex epithelial tissue culture models
In research, due to increasing ethical awareness and technical developments, there is an increased need for models that mimic organs and tissues. To achieve better likeness to in vivo situation for the study of disease processes and host we are using and developing complex tissue culture systems
1. bacterial interactions in the intestinal tract, we are developing 3D tissue culture using rotary systems and reduced oxygen concentration.
2. Air interface culture systems
3. Organoid models using feeder cells to sustain tissue biopsies/necropsies