Research Direction of the Fischetti Lab
More than 90% of all infections begin at a mucous membrane site (oral, nasal, upper and lower respiratory, ocular, intestinal and urogenital). The overall direction of our laboratory is to understand the earliest events in gram-positive bacterial infection, so that we may devise strategies to interfere with these processes and prevent infection before it begins. Towards this goal we are involved in four areas of research, i) develop bacteriophage (or phage) lysins to gram-positive pathogens to be used to both decolonize human mucous membranes and treat infections caused by these organisms, ii) understand the earliest events in S. pyogenes infection, so that methods may be devised to interfere with them, iii) identify the mechanism by which gram-positive bacteria attach their surface proteins in the cell, and develop methods to block this attachment, because naked bacteria cannot cause infection, and iv) develop mucosal vaccine strategies to induce a local immune response to prevent S. pyogenes colonization and infection.
Our laboratory is also involved in research to understand the role played by phage in modulating pathogenic bacteria in their capacity to cause disease and survive in the environment. For these studies we use S. pyogenes and Bacillus anthracis as model organisms. Since most pathogenic gram-positive bacteria have phage systems (lysogenic and virulent), it is clear that these viruses play a major role in the life of these bacteria.