Jordi B. Torrelles, Ph.D.

Professor, Program Co-lead | Population Health

Research Focus

Dr. Jordi Torrelles’ research is focused on the study of the human lung environment and its effect on the outcome of TB disease due to Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M.tb) infection. He also aims to improve the diagnosis of susceptible and drug resistant TB in high burden areas.

 


Inside the Lab

Dr. Torrelles and his team of collaborators aim to develop a culture-based test to diagnose multi-, extensive- and extreme-drug resistant TB. He is working with partners on four continents to test this diagnostic approach. The hope is to reduce the current 56-80 days needed to determine TB drug susceptibility patterns to only 14 days or less, which will allow better therapies and reduce transmission.

Understand the impact of the human lung mucosa in TB pathogenesis is another research focus for Dr. Torrelles. He and his team have found that there are enzymes in the human lung mucosa that modify the bacteria prior to infecting host cells, thus, potentially redefining the M.tb pathway of infection and disease outcome.

Dr. Torrelles and his team currently have a patented TB vaccine candidate, based on a selective biochemical removal of lipids from the bacterium cell wall that mimics the modifications that M. tuberculosis suffers when it gets in contact with the human lung mucosa. This modified vaccine shows significantly greater protection in the mouse model and importantly a significant reduction in lung tissue damage, the hallmark of TB disease. Current studies are being scheduled in the Guinea pig model through the NIH/NIAID TB Vaccine Contract before nonhuman primate studies will begin prior to pre-clinical trials.

Main Technologies and Methods Used

  • Mycobacterial Cell Wall Biochemistry (Proteomics, Lipidomics, Glycomics)
  • Human Lung Mucosa Biology
  • Human Primary Cell Biology (Macrophages, Neutrophils, Alveolar Epithelial Cells)
  • Innate and Adaptive Immunity
  • Animal modeling of Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection