Seeing further: A Brazil-UK collaboration to shine light on the mysteries of parasite cell membranes
“If I have seen further, it has been through standing on the shoulders of giants” (John of Salisbury, 1159).
NTD Network partners and colleagues from Durham, UK and universities from across Sao Paulo state in Brazil gathered this week at Durham University to launch an inter-institutional sister collaboration, investigating transmembrane proteins from neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) and other infectious agents. The FAPESP-SPRINT initiative project is a joint venture between the UK’s Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and Brazil’s Fundação de Amparo a Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo (FAPESP). Membrane proteins hold huge potential as drug targets, yet are poorly understood, this ‘invisibility’ due to the technical challenges of working with these often insoluble proteins. This collaboration, between Durham University, the University of São Paulo (USP) and the Brazilian Biosciences National Laboratory (LNBio), combines the cross-disciplinary expertise from all three institutions. The team plan to develop a suite of tools for characterising the membranes of living cells, equipping us to ‘see further’ in our search for new drug targets for Chagas disease, leishmaniasis and other NTDs.