Characterisation of leptospiral surface proteins

Leptospirosis is a severe infectious disease affecting humans and ruminants globally. Researchers from the University of Liverpool characterised leptospire cell surface proteins with the aim of engineering better vaccines.

The challenge

Leptospirosis is a global, severe infectious disease affecting several different species including ruminants and man. Cattle infection with leptospires results in severe economic losses, food security impact and substantial antimicrobial use, as well as increased zoonotic spread. Bovine leptospirosis (BL) vaccines are available although there are constraints inhibiting use in tropical regions where most disease burden is prevalent including limited range of specificity and cold chain transport and storage issues.

Our research

We characterised several leptospiral surface proteins including adhesion of host molecules to the bacterial cell surface proteins and interaction with the host immune system. Subsequently we have also identified a diversity in function across surface protein orthologs across genomospecies and serovars. Our most recent research is towards engineering more thermostable and efficacious leptospire vaccines. Vaccines are considered key mechanisms to reduce anti-microbial resistance (AMR). Making vaccines more broadly protective, easily accessible and financially affordable can only increase uptake globally, therefore decreasing antibiotic use and AMR.


BBSRC RM Grant: Dissecting cell surface protein diversity to enhance leptospiral vaccine efficacy. N. Evans (PI), D. Rigden, S. Carter & H. Crosby-Durrani.

BBSRC/MRC/GCRF Bactivac Pump Priming Award: Enhancing the efficacy of bovine leptospiral vaccines. N. Evans (PI), J. Derrick (University of Manchester), S. Carter, C. Fenner (Afrigen, South Africa) & Intan Kamaruzaman (Universiti Malaysia Kelantan, Malaysia).

Malaysian government funded PhD Studentship: Delineating host-pathogen interaction of pathogenic Leptospira spp. Supervisors: N. Evans (Lead) & S. Carter, Student: Intan Kamaruzaman.

Back to: Institute of Infection, Veterinary and Ecological Sciences