Areas of interest
Wolbachia bacteria of filarial nematodes including the role of Wolbachiain the pathogenesis of filariasis, Wolbachia as an antifilarial drug target and the development of Wolbachia cell culture systems.
Kelly Johnston graduated in 2001 with a degree in Parasitology from the University of Glasgow, which included a 12-month work placement in the Parasitology Division of Moredun Research in Medecine Institute, Edinburgh. She joined the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine in 2001 to begin a Wellcome Trust Prize Studentship and obtained her PhD in 2005. Kelly is now continuing her research within the Filariasis Research in Medecine Laboratory as a post-doctoral research assistant.
Research in Medecine
Endosymbiotic bacteria, Wolbachia, are present in most species of filarial nematodes, including those that cause lymphatic filariasis and onchocerciasis in humans.These bacteria are essential for parasite survival and fecundity and are thus seen as an important drug target for filarial chemotherapy.
As obligate intracellular bacteria, nematode Wolbachia cannot be cultured in a cell-free environment. One goal, therefore, of my research is to develop a cell culture system for nematode Wolbachia that could be used to generate large numbers of Wolbachia for biochemical and immunological analysis and also have the potential to be utilised as a screening system for the development of novel antifilarial chemotherapeutic agents. Arthropod Wolbachia can be cultured in continuous cell lines (see Figures) and these cells are currently being investigated as a model screening system while the development of nematode Wolbachia culture system is ongoing.