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Anna Allué Guardia, Ph.D.

Anna Allué Guardia

Anna Allué Guardia, Ph.D.

Staff Scientist I | Dr. Jordi B. Torrelles’ Lab

Research Focus

Anna Allué Guardia, Ph.D., is a microbiologist studying Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M.tb), as well as potential treatments and diagnostics for TB. Dr. Allué Guardia seeks to understand how M.tb adapts to our lungs during the first stages of infection and how these early events are critical drivers of infection outcomes. Specifically, she studies how the alveolar lining fluid modifies the cell envelope and metabolism of M.tb. The ultimate goal is to identify key early host and M.tb factors that can serve as novel targets for TB treatment and diagnostics. Dr. Allué Guardia is also currently involved in COVID-19 research projects, including the validation of small animal models and in vitro 3D systems for studying SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Dr. Allué Guardia received her Ph.D. in Environmental Microbiology and Biotechnology from the University of Barcelona, Spain, and has worked with different bacterial pathogens during her postdoctoral studies. Her scientific background is in microbiology, molecular biology, and microbial genomics and transcriptomics, with experience in Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) technologies. She joined Texas Biomed in 2018.

Inside the Lab

Tuberculosis (TB), caused by airborne pathogen Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M.tb), is one of the leading causes of mortality worldwide due to a single infectious agent, killing one person every 21 seconds. Working in Dr. Torrelles’ laboratory, Dr. Allué Guardia investigates the transcriptomic and metabolic changes that occur during the initial stages of M.tb infection, in order to find bacterial and host determinants as potential targets to develop new anti-TB drugs and treatment strategies.

Previous work in the lab found hydrolytic enzymes present in the alveolar lining fluid (ALF) can modify the M.tb cell envelope and drive M.tb-host cell interactions, both in vitro and in vivo. Current gene expression studies show that the M.tb cell envelope adapts to the lung environment in as little as 15 minutes after exposure to ALF, and that infection outcomes are strongly influenced by host ALF status, which is determined by various factors such as age. In addition, we have observed different M.tb strains, including drug-susceptible and drug-resistant isolates, present different transcriptomic profiles when exposed to human ALF, indicating strain-specific adaptation. These findings suggest M.tb-host interactions depend on both the strain’s genotype and the host lung environment.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic,  Dr. Allué Guardia supported a study demonstrating a new transgenic mouse model represents a good animal model for studying SARS-CoV-2 pathogenesis, as well as for prophylactic and therapeutic studies. Dr. Allué Guardia is evaluating 3D in vitro systems for SARS-CoV-2 studies and drug screening. This project also includes single-cell RNA-sequencing to determine transcriptomic changes in lung cell subpopulations following SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Main Technologies and Methods Used

  • Molecular biology: DNA and RNA purification, PCR, gel electrophoresis, qPCR, RT-qPCR
  • Library preparation for high-throughput sequencing, including RNA-seq and single-cell RNA-seq
  • RNA-seq data analysis
  • Immunoassays: ELISA, Multiplex cytokine assay (Luminex)
  • Isolation of monocyte-derived macrophages (MDMs)
  • Microbiological culture
  • Cell culture and infection assays
  • Isolation of human Alveolar Lining Fluid (ALF) from Bronchoalveolar Lavage