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.
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
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.
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.
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!
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
“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.
The Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases UK HUB has launched a local Centre for Global Infectious Diseases (CGID), connecting with colleagues from Newcastle University and others working in infectious diseases research across the UK. The inaugural meeting took place in Durham, July 2018.