Kei Amemiya

Kei Amemiya

US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, USA

Title: Melioidosis and glanders: Diseases in search of animal models, vaccines, and therapeutics


Amemiya received his doctoral degree from Rutgers University in Microbiology in 1973. He did his postgraduate studies in gene regulation in the laboratory of Lucy Shapiro at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, N.Y. Later, he went to the National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Stroke in 1986, where he examined gene regulation in JC virus that caused the demyelinating disease progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy in immune suppressed patients. In 1999, he went to the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, Bacteriology Division, where he has been involved in vaccine development for Burkholderia mallei and Yersinia pestis. His primary interest has been in the immune response and innate immunity in animal models.


Although melioidosis and glanders are diseases that are not well known in the Western hemisphere, they are endemic in other parts of the world. The diseases are caused by two closely related but diverse bacterial species:Burkholderiapseudomallei and B.mallei, respectively. Melioidosis is endemic in Southeast Asia and Northern Austrialia and can be found in both humans and animals. Melioidosis can present as an acute septicemic, febrile illness to chronic disease with local abscess formation. Susceptibility to the disease is especially high in immunocompromised individuals, such as diabetics. It can be isolated from soil or water, and an increase in the incidence of melioidosis appears to be associated with the rainy season in Southeast Asia. Glanders, on the other hand, is a zoonotic disease that is closely associated with horses, donkeys, and mules, although other animals are susceptible to the disease. It is endemic in regions of the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and South America. Transmission to man usually occurs by direct contact with an infected animal or in the laboratory by contact or inhalation of the organism. B. mallei cannot be found in the environment except associated with an infected host.Glanders can also present as an acute febrile, septicemic illiness to a chroniiclliness, with the presence oflocal abscesses or nodules. Both B. pseudomallei and B. mallei are considered facultative intracellular pathogens with multiple mechanisms for antibiotic resistance that make them more difficult to treat and require an extended antibiotic treatment regimen. They are considered Category B agents by the CDC. There is no current vaccine available for melioidosis or glanders or consensus small or large animal model for either disease. We will present the immune response from current studies of a persistently infected murine model for melioidosis and glanders.