Prof. Sandra Van Puyvelde joined the Laboratory of Medical Microbiology at UA as an Assistant Professor in 2019. She received her MSc and PhD degree in Bioscience Engineering at the University of Leuven (Belgium). In her PhD research, she studied Salmonella Typhimurium gene regulation during biofilm formation. After her PhD she obtained an advanced MSc degree in Statistical Data Analysis at the University of Ghent (Belgium) and worked as a research fellow at the Institute of Tropical Medicine Antwerp studying the genomics of Salmonella causing bloodstream infections in Africa, in collaboration with the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Cambridge and Cambridge University where she worked as a visiting researcher since 2015 and 2018 respectively. She combines her appointment at UA with a Senior Research Associate appointment at the Department of Medicine at the University of Cambridge. In her research, Dr. Sandra Van Puyvelde combines bioinformatics and molecular approaches to understand bacterial infections, their adaptation to the human host, and their resistance to antibiotics.

SAL-O5_Asses the variation in lipopolysaccharide structure in circulating African invasive Salmonella Typhimurium isolates to predict vaccine coverage 01/10/2019 - 31/03/2020


In sub-Saharan Africa, invasive non-typhoidal Salmonella (iNTS) is the major cause of bacterial bloodstream infections among young children and disease management is jeopardised by increasing antimicrobial resistance (AMR). The O-antigen portion of Salmonella lipopolysaccharide (LPS) is recognised as key target antigen for protective immunity and O-antigen-based vaccines covering the main serovars Salmonella Typhimurium and Enteritidis are in development. Some of the vaccine candidates are about to enter phase 1 clinical trials; however, efficacy in Africa will not be tested for several years. O-antigen structural variability can have an impact on the protective immunity of corresponding vaccines. Serotyping and genomic investigation of recent iNTS isolates from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have shown increasing rates of iNTS isolates with variation in O-antigen structure. In particular, more than 45 % of the recent Salmonella Typhimurium isolates do not present O:5 specificity, associated to O-antigen O-acetylation. In this project, we will analyse the genomic variation of O-antigen of Salmonella Typhimurium DRC isolates within the African context. The genomic basis of differences in O-antigenic structure will be proven by mutagenesis experiments. We will determine the O-antigen structure from a panel of Salmonella Typhimurium isolates recently collected in DRC, ascertaining the nature of the O-antigen genomic variations. The coverage of current O-antigen based vaccines against iNTS is likely to be impacted by the O-antigen structural variability, and this project will yield key insights on how to improve the current vaccines



Project type(s)

  • Onderzoeksproject