Infectious disease continues to be a major threat to health throughout the world, and New Zealand is far from immune. Current threats include diseases such as tuberculosis (TB), which remains difficult to treat or prevent, and newly emerging diseases, such as those caused by new virus strains and highly drug-resistant bacteria.
New Zealand also suffers from very high rates of infectious diseases long considered conquered elsewhere in the developed world, especially diseases resulting from streptococcus infection, such as acute rheumatic fever. Many of these infections disproportionally affect our most economically vulnerable citizens.
Our research programme has a strong focus on bacterial infection, including TB, staphylococcus and streptococcus. Individual projects cover the spectrum from basic research, such as asking why a bacterium is able to defeat the human immune system, to investigating potential anti-microbial drugs. A growing viral research programme helps underpin the nation’s capability in responding to the threats posed by viruses.
THE MAURICE WILKINS CENTRE UNDERTAKES RESEARCH IN THE FOLLOWING AREAS
Group A streptococcus
Group A Streptococcus (GAS) infection is widespread in New Zealand and rates of associated acute rheumatic fever (RF) continue to be unacceptably high in Māori and Pacific children.
Maurice Wilkins Centre investigators across New Zealand lead a strong tuberculosis (TB) research programme that spans a range of subthemes - from learning about new target molecules within the TB organism to developing newer, more effective drugs.
Drug targets in viral disease
Viruses are a constant threat to global health. Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections are huge killers. Meanwhile, other dangerous viruses, especially those carried by mosquitoes that cause Dengue fever, Yellow fever and Zika, are becoming increasingly prevalent due to climatic changes.
Overcoming antimicrobial resistance
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