Issue 12
Monday, 31 July 2017
Charles Darwin University
A melioidosis plate
A melioidosis plate

Partnership unravelling mysteries of melioidosis

By Paul Dale

Menzies School of Health Research recently hosted researchers from the Northern Arizona University (NAU) to discuss international developments in melioidosis research, including working towards preventing the potentially lethal bacterial infection.

NAU Executive Director of the Pathogen and Microbiome Institute Professor Paul Keim joined the Menzies melioidosis team, led by Professor Bart Currie, for an update on the ongoing collaboration funded by the Pentagon’s Defence Threat Reduction Agency.

“The collaboration is refining the diagnostics and treatment plans to further enhance the approach to melioidosis developed at Royal Darwin Hospital over the past two decades,” Professor Keim said.

The team also discussed global concerns that melioidosis bacteria may be used as a biological weapon, as with anthrax in the United States.

“There is no magic pill yet for treatment. Ultimately we would like to develop a vaccine but every melioidosis infection is new and unique, making it very complex to treat,” he said.

The partnership between Menzies and the NAU began in 2014, building on more than a decade of collaboration.

“The bacteria, which is common in soil in Australia’s north and throughout Asia, doesn’t occur in the United States, but we see cases due to Americans travelling to affected areas, and particularly to known endemic tropical regions,” Professor Keim said.

Professor Currie, who is team leader of tropical and emerging infectious diseases at Menzies, said it was a great privilege to work with Professor Keim and his team.

“They are global leaders in many aspects of bacterial genomics, which complements our patient-centered clinical work to help us together unravel the mysteries of melioidosis,” Professor Currie said.