Smriti Mehra, Ph.D., is a molecular and microbiologist seeking to understand basic mechanisms of tuberculosis (TB) infection, and develop new vaccines and therapies that can stop this devastating infectious disease. She specifically studies how latent TB evades the body’s immune system, hiding in the lungs often for decades, before becoming active and causing serious illness. She also studies active TB and interactions between TB and HIV.
Dr. Mehra’s work relies on nonhuman primate models, in which she is an expert. She helped establish the macaque model of airborne transmission of TB while at the Tulane National Primate Research Center. Dr. Mehra is a principal investigator on two NIH grants and a co-investigator on a third NIH grant. She joined Texas Biomed and SNPRC in 2021.
Inside the Lab
A key area of of my research is the role played by immune checkpoint inhibitors, such as IDO-1, LAG-3 and CTLA-4, in modulating responses to Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb), the bacterium that causes TB. My lab is testing several host-directed therapies to inhibit the IDO pathway to see if it that can help fight off TB infection. Inhibiting this pathway has helped cancer patients, by improving the body’s immune response and shrink tumors.
We are also studying CD4+ T cells and their response to the only approved TB vaccine, BCG, versus new whole-cell vaccine candidates. I am also interested in developing and testing new recombinant BCG vaccines for their efficacy against TB.
Main Technologies and Methods Used
- Macrophage biology
- Confocal microscopy
- Flow cytometry
- Transcriptomics including RNAseq