EDCTP Alumni Network

Fostering excellence and collaboration in the next generation of researchers

Call Career Development Fellowship (CDF)
Programme EDCTP2
Start Date 2018-04-01
End Date 2021-03-31
Project Code TMA2016CDF1546
Status Active


Host-directed therapy: Myeloid derived suppressor cell ablation by phosphodiesterase inhibitor

Host Organisation

Institution Country
Stellenbosch University (SU) South Africa


Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa

Students Supervised

Type Name Title University Start Date End Date
Honours Vinzeigh Leukes Mr. Stellenbosch University 2014 2014
MSc. Charmaine Jangano Ms. Stellenbosch University 2020 2021
Hons. Charmaine Jangano Ms. Stellenbosch University 2019 2019
Post Doctoral Fellow Tandeka Magcwebeba Dr. Stellenbosch University 2017 2019
PhD Netanya Bernitz Ms. Stellenbosch University 2017 2019
M.Sc Carly Young Ms. Stellenbosch University 2017 2018

Current Organisation

Stellenbosch University

Current Job Title

Senior Scientist

Areas Of Specialisation

Tuberculosis (TB)


C. Young
G. Walzl
N. Du Plessis
Mucosal Immunol


Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) is the only licenced tuberculosis (TB) vaccine, but has limited efficacy against pulmonary TB disease development and modest protection against extrapulmonary TB. Preventative antibiotic treatment for Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) infections in high-prevalence settings is unfeasible due to unclear treatment durability, drug toxicity, logistical constraints related to directly observed treatment strategy (DOTS) and the lengthy treatment protocols. Together, these factors promote non-adherence, contributing to relapse and establishment of drug-resistant Mtb strains. Although antibiotic treatment of drug-susceptible Mtb is generally effective, drug-resistant TB has a treatment efficacy below 50% and can, in a proportion, develop into progressive, untreatable disease. Other immune compromising co-infections and/or co-morbidities require more complex prevention/treatment approaches, posing huge financial burdens to national health services. Novel TB treatment strategies, such as host-directed therapeutics, are required to complement pathogen-targeted approaches. Pre-clinical studies have highlighted promising candidates that enhance endogenous pathways and/or limit destructive host responses. This review discusses promising pre-clinical candidates and forerunning compounds at advanced stages of clinical investigation in TB host-directed therapeutic (HDT) efficacy trials. Such approaches are rationalized to improve outcome in TB and shorten treatment strategies.

[ The authors acknowledge the financial support from the European & Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP; CDF1546). ]

Nelita du Plessis
Gerhard Walzl
Michael J Vjecha
Martin Rao
Francine Ntoumi
Sayoki Mfinanga
Nathan Kapata
Peter Mwaba
Timothy D McHugh
Giuseppe Ippolito
Giovanni Battista Migliori
Markus J Maeurer
Alimuddin Zumla
The Lancet ID

Tuberculosis remains the world's leading cause of death from an infectious disease, responsible for an estimated 1 674 000 deaths annually. WHO estimated 600 000 cases of rifampicin-resistant tuberculosis in 2016—of which 490 000 were multidrug resistant (MDR), with less than 50% survival after receiving recommended treatment regimens. Concerted efforts of stakeholders, advocates, and researchers are advancing further development of shorter course, more effective, safer, and better tolerated treatment regimens. We review the developmental pipeline and landscape of new and repurposed tuberculosis drugs, treatment regimens, and host-directed therapies (HDTs) for drug-sensitive and drug-resistant tuberculosis. 14 candidate drugs for drug-susceptible, drug-resistant, and latent tuberculosis are in clinical stages of drug development; nine are novel in phase 1 and 2 trials, and three new drugs are in advanced stages of development for MDR tuberculosis. Specific updates are provided on clinical trials of bedaquiline, delamanid, pretomanid, and other licensed or repurposed drugs that are undergoing investigation, including trials aimed at shortening duration of tuberculosis treatment, improving treatment outcomes and patient adherence, and reducing toxic effects. Ongoing clinical trials for shortening tuberculosis treatment duration, improving treatment outcomes in MDR tuberculosis, and preventing disease in people with latent tuberculosis infection are reviewed. A range of HDTs and immune-based treatments are under investigation as adjunctive therapy for shortening duration of therapy, preventing permanent lung injury, and improving treatment outcomes of MDR tuberculosis. We discuss the HDT development pipeline, ongoing clinical trials, and translational research efforts for adjunct tuberculosis treatment.

[ Authors acknowledge support from The European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP). ]

Tandeka Magcwebeba
Anca Dorhoi
Nelita du Plessis
Front Immunol.


Myeloid cells are crucial for the host control of a Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M.tb) infection, however the adverse role of specific myeloid subsets has increasingly been appreciated. The relevance of such cells in therapeutic strategies and predictive/prognostic algorithms is to promote interest in regulatory myeloid cells in tuberculosis (TB). Myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSC) are a heterogeneous collection of phagocytes comprised of monocytic- and polymorphonuclear cells that exhibit a potent suppression of innate- and adaptive immune responses. Accumulation of MDSC under pathological conditions associated with chronic inflammation, most notably cancer, has been well-described. Evidence supporting the involvement of MDSC in TB is increasing, yet their significance in this infection continues to be viewed with skepticism, primarily due to their complex nature and the lack of genetic evidence unequivocally discriminating these cells from other terminally differentiated myeloid populations. Here we highlight recent advances in MDSC characterization and summarize findings on the TB-induced hematopoietic shift associated with MDSC expansion. Lastly, the mechanisms of MDSC-mediated disease progression and future research avenues in the context of TB therapy and prophylaxis are discussed.

[The authors declare financial support from the European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP, CDF1546) ]

Nelita du Plessis
Leigh A. Kotze
Vinzeigh Leukes
Gerhard Walzl
Front Cell Infect Microbiol.


Despite recent advances in tuberculosis (TB) drug development and availability, successful antibiotic treatment is challenged by the parallel development of antimicrobial resistance. As a result, new approaches toward improving TB treatment have been proposed in an attempt to reduce the high TB morbidity and mortality rates. Host-directed therapies (HDTs), designed to modulate host immune components, provide an alternative approach for improving treatment outcome in both non-communicable and infectious diseases. Many candidate immunotherapeutics, designed to target regulatory myeloid immune components in cancer, have so far proven to be of value as repurposed HDT in TB. Several of these studies do however lack detailed description of the mechanism or host pathway affected by TB HDT treatment. In this review, we present an argument for greater appreciation of the role of regulatory myeloid cells, such as myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSC), as potential targets for the development of candidate TB HDT compounds. We discuss the role of MDSC in the context of Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection and disease, focussing primarily on their specific cellular functions and highlight the impact of HDTs on MDSC frequency and function.


[The authors acknowledged the financial support from the European & Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP; CDF1546)]


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