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Dr Nicole Messina
Dr Messina completed her PhD at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre investigating crosstalk in cytokine signalling pathways and the role of interferon signalling pathways in tumour immunosurveillance. Her previous research has also included investigating the role of cytokine response pathways in regulatory T cell development and function. Dr Messina is now a senior Research officer in the Infectious Disease group at MCRI. Dr Messina co-supervises four PhD students, holds an Honorary Research Fellow appointment with the University of Melbourne and is a member of the Melbourne Children's Graduate Research Committee and MCRI animal ethics committee.
Since its inception in February 2020, Dr Messina has been the Biosample and Laboratory lead for the BRACE trial. The BRACE trial is the world’s largest trial on the off-target effects of Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine with more than 6800 healthcare workers enrolled in five countries. In addition to preventing severe tuberculosis in children, BCG vaccine has non-specific (heterologous) immunomodulatory effects. This randomised controlled clinical trial is working to determine whether the BCG vaccine reduces the incidence of symptomatic and severe COVID-19. It is also exploring if BCG vaccine reduces the impact of other respiratory illnesses and allergic diseases, as well as the immunological mechanisms that underpin the beneficial off-target effects of BCG. Since March 2021, Dr Messina has led the establishment the BRACE COVID-19-Specific vaccine Sub-study (BCOS), which is investigating whether it’s possible to predict who remains susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 variants after already having COVID-19 or receiving a COVID-19-specific vaccine. The sub-study will also look at whether BCG vaccination improves the immune response to Pfizer, AstraZeneca and CoronaVac vaccines.
In addition to the BRACE trial, Dr Messina is involved in multiple immunology-based research projects in the Infectious Diseases Research Group at the MCRI. These include investigating new diagnostic tools for tuberculosis, antimicrobial resistance in infants and the impacts off-target of routine scheduled infant vaccines on immune responses in neonates and infants. This latter research area is primarily focused on the Melbourne Infant Study: BCG for Allergy and Infection Reduction (MIS BAIR). MIS BAIR is a randomised controlled trial of neonatal BCG vaccination to determine if neonatal BCG vaccination protects against allergy, eczema, asthma and infections in the first one and five years of life.
Full list of publications available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/myncbi/1XO_7StkUpCA6/bibliography/public/
Sudbury EL, Clifford V, Messina NL, Song R, Curtis N. Mycobacterium tuberculosis-specific cytokine biomarkers to differentiate active TB and LTBI: A systematic review. J Infect. 2020 Dec;81(6):873-881. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/33007340
Messina NL, Netea MG, Curtis N. The impact of human single nucleotide polymorphisms on Bacillus Calmette-Guérin responses. Vaccine. 2020 Sep 11;38(40):6224-6235. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/32826104
Bright MR, Curtis N, Messina NL. The role of antibodies in Bacille Calmette Guérin-mediated immune responses and protection against tuberculosis in humans: A systematic review. Tuberculosis (Edinb). 2020 Jun 9:101947. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/33691988
Imran S, Neeland MR, Shepherd R, Messina N, Perrett KP, Netea MG, Curtis N, Saffery R, Novakovic B. A Potential Role for Epigenetically Mediated Trained Immunity in Food Allergy. iScience. 2020 Jun 26;23(6):101171. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/32480123
Bannister S, Messina NL, Novakovic B, Curtis N. The emerging role of epigenetics in the immune response to vaccination and infection: a systematic review. Epigenetics. 2020 Mar 17:1-39. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31914857
Freyne B, Messina NL, Donath S, Germano S, Bonnici R, Gardiner K, Casalaz D, Robins-Browne RM, Netea MG, Flanagan KL, Kollmann T, Curtis N; MIS BAIR group. Neonatal BCG vaccination reduces interferon gamma responsiveness to heterologous pathogens in infants from a randomised controlled trial. J Infect Dis. 2020 Jan 28. pii: jiaa030. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31990350
Messina NL, Williamson DA, Robins-Browne R, Bryant P.A, Cutis N. Risk Factors for Carriage of Antibiotic-resistant Bacteria in Healthy Children in the Community - A Systematic Review. Pediatr Infect Dis J. 2020 May;39(5):397-405. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/32301919
Messina NL, Gardiner K, Donath S, Flanagan K, Ponsonby A.L,, Shann F, Robins-Browne R, Freyne B, Abruzzo V, Morison C, Cox L, Germano S, Zufferey C, Zimmermann P, Allen K.J, Vuillermin P, South M, Casalaz D, Cutis N. Study protocol for the Melbourne Infant Study: BCG for Allergy and Infection Reduction (MIS BAIR), a randomised controlled trial to determine the non-specific effects of neonatal BCG vaccination in a low-mortality setting. BMJ Open. 2019 Dec 15;9(12):e032844. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31843845