About And Our Mission
The Torrelles laboratory is a multidisciplinary, international group of researchers studying some of the world’s deadliest pathogens, including Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M.tb), severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infections, which are leading world causes of death due to a single infectious agent. Our work tackles different aspects of infectious disease research, from pathogen adaptation to the tissue environments, host determinants driving infection outcomes, and host-pathogen interactions, to the improvement and development of novel diagnostic tools, therapies and vaccines strategies against those pathogens.
We are especially interested in understanding the impact of the human lung mucosa in infectious disease pathogenesis. We have previously identified certain homeostatic hydrolytic enzymes and soluble components in the human lung mucosa that can modify the cell envelope of M.tb prior to infection of host cells, resulting in different infection outcomes. We are currently investigating how these components change the pathogen and its metabolism, with the ultimate goal of finding novel targets that can be used in prevention and treatment strategies to tackle early stages of infection. In addition, we have observed that as we age, some of the components in the human lung mucosa become dysfunctional, leading to increased susceptibility to respiratory infections such as M.tb. We observe similar outcomes with other co-morbidities such as diabetes and HIV infection. Thus, we aim to understand cellular and systemic changes that influence the lung mucosa composition as we age, with the ultimate goal of defining which elements of the human lung mucosa are critical to confer protection against being susceptible to respiratory infections, and develop new treatment strategies and delivery methods to prevent and treat TB and other respiratory diseases.