The TB Genomics research group has its foundation in the molecular epidemiology of Mycobacterium tuberculosis at the Division of Molecular Biology and Human Genetics (MBHG) at Stellenbosch University and the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) Centre for Tuberculosis Research (CTR) and has provided new insights in tuberculosis and mycobacteriology research fields.
WHAT WE DO
Our group focuses on OMICs approach through genomic analysis by whole-genome sequencing (WGS), transcriptomics using RNA-seq, and proteomics, allowing us to investigate the epidemiology, drug resistance, and evolution of M. tuberculosis complex (MTBC) and nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM). We are supported by an outstanding microbiology core with expertise in mycobacterial culture, and drug susceptibility testing (DST) including the minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) determination. We also study compensatory mechanisms and the role of iron and lipids in virulence.
We have established one of the largest archives of drug-susceptible and drug-resistant isolates of M. tuberculosis in the world, in collaboration with the National Health Laboratory Services (NHLS). This archive includes samples from patients at baseline as well as serial isolates. It also includes M. tuberculosis and NTM samples from various Southern African settings. This culture bank allows us to scrutinize the local epidemic in terms of outbreak investigations, within-patient evolution of drug resistance, transmission, and discovering novel drug-resistance causing mutations. By combining WGS with RNA-seq or proteomics we are able to determine the impact of drug resistance on the physiology of M. tuberculosis.
We are also involved in the development and evaluation of rapid molecular diagnostics for the detection of drug resistance that are based on Next generation sequencing methods to inform patient management (precision medicine) and public health policies.