Posts by: NTD Network

Making plans, making friends: Pakistan HUB members visit the UK

This month, Professor Iqbal Choudhary (Pakistan HUB leader) and Dr Sammer Yousuf, both from the International Centre for Chemical and Biological Sciences (ICCBS), University of Karachi, Pakistan, connected in person with NTD Network colleagues in Durham and York. This visit has been invaluable in connecting the team delivering the NTD Network’s upcoming early career researcher training, “New Anti-leishmanial Leads from Natural Sources: Concepts and Approaches” in Karachi, 8th-9th November, which follows the “7th International Symposium on Molecular Medicine and Drug Research” (4th-7th November).  The University of Karachi is offering additional support for workshop attendees to also participate in the conference.  The NTD Network team are keen to encourage student applications for these linked events from across the middle east and Asia, a region in which leishmaniasis is endemic and often under-reported.

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Amplifying the possibilities: Long awaited new PCR equipment arrives in Karachi


After a long wait, a piece of vital equipment, the “CFX96 Touch™ Real-Time PCR Detection System”, co-funded by the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) and the University of Karachi, has now arrived at the International Center for Chemical and Biological Sciences (ICCBS).  The machine (a white box with screen – visible in the right of the picture) now enables Network members Iqbal Choudhary, Sammer Yousuf and the Karachi team to use the polymerase chain reaction technique (PCR) DNA amplifying technology to identify genetic variations between strains of Leishmania parasites, causing leishmaniasis.  This purchase is also a behind-the-scenes administrative triumph for international collaboration, highlighting some of the bureaucratic difficulties we navigate with our NTD Network colleagues in developing countries.
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Second CGID meeting in Newcastle: Sharing enthusiasm and insights for infectious diseases research

The second Centre for Global Infectious Diseases (CGID) annual meeting, a joint venture Durham University and the University of Newcastle, took place today at the Newcastle Medical School, hosted by our colleagues from the Newcastle University Fungal Research team.  This year’s programme showcased some of the engaging research into global infections that takes place across the northeast UK, and gave particular emphasis to early career researchers working on globally-significant diseases, many of which impact developing countries.  … Continue reading

Extending our capacity: Bringing CRISPR technology to parasitologists in Asia

This March, 2019, a diverse group of 28 students gathered at Kolkata’s Indian Institute for Chemical Biology, for a workshop providing practical skills in genetic manipulation of Leishmania parasites using CRISPR-Cas9 technology.  These new skills will transform their careers, and in time may improve the lives of people affected by leishmaniasis, a global problem which poses a risk to the lives of millions of people in India and Pakistan alone.

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Off the well-trodden path: Ribeirão Preto’s forest offers diverse potential new drug solutions

Prior to delivering a workshop at the University of São Paolo (USP) Ribeirão Preto campus, UK Network members Patrick Steel, Paul Denny, Ehmke Pohl and colleagues from USP and Durham University, spent a day exploring.  The Serra da Canastra national park in Minas Gerais, the origin of the São Francisco river, is home to a tropical and scrubby forest, known to these scientists as USP professor Noberto Lopes’ “chemical hunting ground”.  The workshop, “Development and evaluation of bioactive compounds” (March 25th-29th 2019; funded by Brazil’s Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo (FAPESP) ‘SPRINT’ initiative), equipped ~40 Brazilian postgraduate students with skills to source novel chemicals from plants, fungi and animals.  USP’s natural products library already holds many naturally-sourced compounds new to science, but more are needed – as leads for new medicines to treat the Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) affecting Brazil and other developing countries.  On this hot day, the team veer off a well-trodden path to go exploring in the forest, taking in spectacular waterfalls and an impromptu swim.

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One small box, two big smiles: New equipment for Chagas disease research arrives in Rosario

February 20th, 2019, and Dr Julia Cricco (right) gathers her research team at the National University of Rosario (UNR), Argentina, to greet the new arrival; a small, grey box…  This unremarkable-looking machine is a ‘Nucleofector’ from Lonza, purchased with Equipment Fund support from the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs).  This device will transform the speed at which Julia’s group can progress towards identifying valid biological targets for developing new drugs against Chagas disease.  The arrival of this one small box is therefore much celebrated, provoking excitement and big smiles all round!

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Resercher training in Rio: Using CRISPR to illuminate new solutions for two old, ‘invisible’ diseases

July, 2018; and as the cool of evening descends over Rio de Janeiro, 22 young researchers from South America and the UK gather, excited and a little nervous, to meet each other and their tutors for the next 5 days.  The teaching team of 9 international experts are here to provide training in use of CRISPR-Cas9 technology in trypanosomes (Tryps), the parasites that cause the neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) Chagas disease (American trypanosomiasis) and leishmaniasis.  The students’ excitement is justified; their new skills will transform their professional lives, and may also be life-changing for many of the ~0.5 billion people worldwide at risk from these infections.1-4 

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Tryps, drugs, (metabolism) and rock ‘n’ roll: An interview with Ariel Silber

“I always said there were two things I’d never do: 

parasites and metabolism!”

Professor Ariel Silber, from the University of São Paulo (USP), the NTD Network hub leader for South America, laughs as he recalls himself as an impetuous undergraduate.  Ariel is a specialist in trypanosomes (Tryps); single-celled parasites causing the neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) Chagas disease, leishmaniasis and sleeping sickness.  We are catching up over a coffee during his visit with Durham NTD Network members.

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First Hub leaders’ meeting: Navigating the maze of neglected tropical diseases

It is a hot May afternoon in Lucknow; members of the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) take a break from the first ‘Hub leader’s meeting’, escaping the heat and throat-catching pollution to the tranquil gardens of the Bara Imambara (‘Court of the Imam’) and its famous maze, Bhul Bhulaiya.[1]  The Network’s aim is to find targets for new drugs to treat two NTDs, Chagas disease and leishmaniasis The venue today seems apt; not only are these infections a vast biological puzzle, but also, behind the scenes, the Network’s 14 institutions are currently negotiating a maze of bureaucratic red tape to ratify the necessary legal requirements which will allow them to commence their international programme of collaborative work. 

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