Featured Researcher: Kiyoko Takemiya

Kiyoko Takemiya, MD, PhD

Kiyoko Takemiya, MD, PhD (Emory University Division of Cardiology) joined Emory from Kurume University in Japan. She recently received an American Heart Association Scientist Development Grant to support her research on the detection of bacterial infections associated with medical devices. Currently, the diagnosis of device infection is made based on symptoms or clinical signs, and when it is diagnosed, the infection has already expanded and damaged the surrounding tissue. Dr. Takemiya’s work aims to detect infection in the very early stages with no clinical signs or symptoms, which will help to improve the prognosis of patients and to reduce unnecessary surgeries.

To detect small amount of bacteria, Dr. Takemiya’s team focused on the differences in sugar metabolism between bacteria and mammalian cells. Maltodextrin, a kind of sugar, is used by bacteria as a major energy source through the “maltodextrin transporter,” but cannot be internalized by mammalian cells. The maltodextrin transporter is large enough to pass an imaging probe conjugated with maltodextrin or its analogue, leading to accumulation in bacteria, and allowing sensitive and specific detection of bacteria. Dr. Takemiya uses rat models to test these maltodextrin and maltodextrin analogue-based imaging probes for near infrared imaging and positron emission tomography (PET) imaging to detect the existence of bacteria. In her free time, Dr. Takemiya enjoys cooking, reading, playing with jigsaw puzzles, and crafting.

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