Infectious diseases

At a glance

Investigating the role of B cells in TB immunity

Lead researcher

Dr Robert Krause and Professor Paul Elkington


African Health Research Institute, South Africa and University of Southampton, UK



Amount awarded


Last updated



Dr Robert Krause from the African Health Research Institute, South Africa and Professor Paul Elkington from the University of Southampton will collaborate on a research project to look at the effect of the immune cells 'B cells' in TB progression.

Dr Robert Krause Dr Robert Krause

Mycobacterium tuberculosis is a bacterium that infects the lung and causes the human disease tuberculosis. Healthy lungs are spongy tissues patrolled by a few immune cells, called alveolar macrophages. The bacteria initially infect these cells, which alerts the immune system, attracting different immune cells from the blood to control the infection. Usually, the bacteria are successfully contained and remain dormant, but in some people, infection then becomes active, resulting in tuberculosis disease.

Researchers at the African Health Research Institute (AHRI) previously studied clinical human tuberculosis samples and found a large number of specific immune cells in tuberculosis-infected lungs known as B cells. Using a 3-dimensional human tissue culture model, developed at Southampton University, the team have found that these B cells can inhibit bacterial growth.

Professor Paul Elkington Professor Paul Elkington

Dr Krause and Professor Elkington will use this award to build the collaboration between AHRI and Southampton University and to expand on these preliminary findings. They hope to gain insight into the effect of B cells on bacterial growth and disease progression. Dr Krause will train in new methodologies and set them up at AHRI, to be used in the TB/HIV endemic in South Africa. They will explore ways to enhance the B cells inhibitory effect on bacteria which could be used to identify new treatment approaches.

This project has been funded by the 2020 Dorothy Temple Cross International Collaboration Grant

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