Buruli ulcer

Mycobacterium Ulcerans Infection (Buruli ulcer): Towards Improving Control, Diagnosis and Therapy

After tuberculosis and leprosy, Buruli ulcer (BU), caused by M. ulcerans, is the third most common mycobacterial disease, and Western Africa is the world region most affected by this chronic necrotising disease of the skin and the subcutaneous tissue. M. ulcerans is unique among mycobacterial pathogens in that it is mainly extracellular and produces a plasmid-encoded toxin with a polyketide-derived macrolide structure, named mycolactone.

Symptoms and Treatment

Mycolactone is believed to play a central role in determining the extracellular localization of the bacteria and modulation of immunological responses to M. ulcerans. Clinical lesions usually start as painless nodules and if left untreated lead to massive destruction of skin and sometimes bone. While surgery has traditionally been the only recommended treatment for BU, in 2004 WHO published provisional guidelines recommending treatment with a combination of rifampicin and streptomycin for 8 weeks.

Our research

We developed a brad research portfolio comprising clinical, field and laboratory studies.

The goals of our research are to

  • improve understanding of the pathogenesis, immunology and transmission of Buruli ulcer,
  • develop methods for early diagnosis, and
  • investigate prospects for improving therapy and vaccine development.

Walker T.M et al. A cluster of multidrug-resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis among patients arriving in Europe from the Horn of Africa: a molecular epidemiological study. Lancet. 2018(in press). DOI: 10.1016/S1473-3099(18)30004-5

Cretton S et al. A new antifungal and antiprotozoal bibenzyl derivative from Gavilea lutea. Nat Prod Res. 2018;32(6):695-701. DOI: 10.1080/14786419.2017.1338287

Nguyen T.T.N, Schindler C, Dien T.M, Probst-Hensch N, Perez L, Künzli N. Acute effects of ambient air pollution on lower respiratory infections in Hanoi children: an eight-year time series study. Environ Int. 2018;110:139-148. DOI: 10.1016/j.envint.2017.10.024

Müller-Rompa S.E.K et al. An approach to the asthma-protective farm effect by geocoding: good farms and better farms. Pediatr Allergy Immunol. 2018(in press). DOI: 10.1111/pai.12861

Maia M.F et al. Attractive toxic sugar baits for controlling mosquitoes: a qualitative study in Bagamoyo, Tanzania. Malar J. 2018;17(1):22. DOI: 10.1186/s12936-018-2171-2

Späth A, Zemp E, Merten S, Dratva J. Baby-friendly hospital designation has a sustained impact on continued breastfeeding. Matern Child Nutr. 2018;14(1). DOI: 10.1111/mcn.12497

Wiedemar N et al. Beyond immune escape: a variant surface glycoprotein causes suramin resistance in Trypanosoma brucei. Mol Microbiol. 2018;107(1):57-67. DOI: 10.1111/mmi.13854

Jäger F.N, Bechir M, Harouna M, Moto D.D, Utzinger J. Challenges and opportunities for healthcare workers in a rural district of Chad. BMC Health Serv Res. 2018;18:7. DOI: 10.1186/s12913-017-2799-6

Arku R.E et al. Elevated blood pressure and household solid fuel use in premenopausal women: analysis of 12 Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) from 10 countries. Environ Res. 2018;160:499-505. DOI: 10.1016/j.envres.2017.10.026

Cole-Hunter T et al. Estimated effects of air pollution and space-time-activity on cardiopulmonary outcomes in healthy adults: a repeated measures study. Environ Int. 2018;111:247-259. DOI: 10.1016/j.envint.2017.11.024