Research

In the Yersinia and bacteriophage research laboratory we study the molecular biology of Yersinia virulence and focus on the intricate regulatory networks controlling the expression of the virulence factors, the molecular biology and genetics of Yersinia- and ESKAPEE-specific bacteriophages and aim at setting up phage therapy in Finland

We study molecular biology of Yersinia virulence and focus on the molecular and genetic characterization of the Yersinia virulence factors such as YadA, lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and Ail. We also study the molecular biology and genetics of Yersinia-specific bacteriophages.

To understand how bacteria cause diseases we continue in three projects to characterize the structure/function relationships of the Yersinia virulence factors, their interactions with host, and the intricate regulatory networks controlling the expression of the virulence factors. This will deepen our understanding on the disease mechanisms and in the long run provide novel means to cure or prevent infectious diseases.

We continue to elucidate the molecular biology and genetics of bacteriophages φR1-37 and YerA41. In addition to pure academic interest to the resolve the molecular mechanism behind the rare dU-containing DNA of φR1-37 and still unknown nucleotide modifications of YerA41, we foresee possibilities to exploit the identified nucleotide metabolism enzymes and inhibitors in biotechnological applications. In addition, we have isolated a number of phages specific for the ESKAPEE bacteria from different sources such as sewage, stools, compost etc., We have sequenced >100 of the phages and are characterizing some of the phages in details.

Our aim is to set up a PT laboratory in Finland. We have initiated the project to establish the logistics and practical issues in setting up and maintaining a collection of therapeutic phages. In order to run PT service for clinicians, safe bacteriophage preparations for therapeutic use approved by appropriate authorities need to be produced and the infrastructure needed for this requires short and long time investments. Overall we want to demonstrate that PT is beneficial in the treatment of severe (antibiotic-resistant) bacterial infections (in Finland) and thereby convince the authorities to include PT as part of the public health care.