Véronique Dartois, Ph.D., is a Member of the Center for Discovery and Innovation.
Dr. Dartois’s research interests include the fate of anti-mycobacterial drugs and other antibiotics from plasma to tissues, infected organs and single cells. Her laboratory uses imaging mass spectrometry and laser-capture microdissection to visualize the spatial distribution of drugs at the site of infection, and how this affects drug efficacy in animal models and in patients.
Significant efforts are dedicated to understanding the pharmacological mechanisms contributing to the very long therapy required to cure tuberculosis. These essentially fall under two categories: (1) the presence of multiple bacterial subpopulations exhibiting differential (and reduced) susceptibility to most drugs, and (2) the complexity of the lung pathology leading to sequestration of the pathogen in remote niches where drugs may fail to distribute efficiently. While the phenotypic tolerance of Mycobacterium tuberculosis to most antibiotics has been the focus of extensive research, the pharmacological question of drug penetration at the site of infection has largely been neglected so far. Using both quantitative and imaging methods, Dr. Dartois’s group has demonstrated that different anti-TB agents exhibit very different patterns of distribution from blood to the sites of infection. Their results have paved the way to guiding the selection of new drug regimens that combine agents with complementary distribution into lesions, a significant departure from current – and mostly empirical – approaches.
They have established a fully integrated analytical platform for the quantification of drugs, lipids and other small molecules in various biological matrices. In the biosafety level 3 facility, Dr. Dartois’s group has access to a large animal biosafety level-3 facility within CDI, where they routinely conduct pharmacokinetic and efficacy studies in mouse and rabbit disease models. They also have a state-of-the-art MALDI mass spectrometry imaging suite, enabling the visualization of therapeutic agents and endogenous metabolites in tissues/organs infected with tuberculosis, non-tuberculous mycobacteria and other high-threat pathogens.