Dr. Wu is currently working to develop vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics for human respiratory tularemia. Tularemia is caused by the gram-negative bacteria Francisella tularensis
and the respiratory form of the disease is associated with a mortality rate approaching 30%, if not promptly diagnosed and treated. Proper diagnosis of this disease is difficult because the symptoms resemble many other respiratory infections and treatment may suffer from patient non-compliance due to the prolonged treatment regimen required to cure the disease. Moreover, it is not possible to vaccinate against this disease because no vaccine has been approved by the FDA. Given these challenges, the lab is working to develop: 1) a safe and effective tularemia vaccine that can be administered using a needle-free method; 2) a therapeutic drug formulation that would be effective as a single dose; and 3) a rapid and highly specific method to diagnose tularemia. Dr. Wu is funded by the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Disease and Defense Threat Reduction Agency.