No plans yet for Friday evening? Why not join the party at Looking for Endosymbiotic Love, a live show launching a science-art project, cooked up by NTD Network PhD student and parasitologist Yasmine Kumordzi (Durham University), and performer RJ Lloyd. In this highly creative approach to science outreach, these two friends ‘personify’ a range of complex and neglected infectious diseases as lonely hearts, on the lookout for romance… The project has resulted in a 2021 wall calendar and launch event, to be live-streamed this Friday, 4th December, 7-8pm UK time (free tickets here.) Or if you don’t want to wait, click here for a blast of Yasmine herself, introducing leishmaniasis – her ‘endo’ of choice (i.e. her specialist research area!!). What’s not to love? 🙂
Crystallising a new collaboration: Researchers reveal the structure of Leishmania donovani Rab5a protein
Congratulations to Network members Dr Ashish Arora (CSIR-CDRI, Lucknow, India) and Professor Ehmke Pohl (Durham University, UK) and their teams, on their first joint publication! Ashish and Ehmke met at the Network’s first HUB meeting in India, May 2018, and subsequently began collaborating to solve the crystal structure of the Leishmania donovani RAB5a protein, which is essential for parasite survival in its human host. Their work, funded via a NTD Network ‘Pump Priming’ allocation, establishes new links between their respective research institutions, and has supported the imitation of what Ashish and Ehmke intend as a long and fruitful partnership; one which could, in time, enable discovery of a new ‘druggable’ therapeutic target against visceral forms of leishmaniasis, a potentially lethal neglected tropical disease (NTD).
This May saw the launch of a new themed collection of articles from the Royal Society of Chemistry’s journal, RSC Medicinal Chemistry, bringing together scientific breakthroughs and incisive insights from global experts seeking new routes to therapeutic solutions for neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). This themed collection, entitled “Neglected Tropical Diseases” and edited by NTD Network members Dr Charles Mowbray (DNDi), Professor Nahid Ali (IICB Kolkata) and Dr Steven Cobb (Durham University), currently includes 15 articles. Read their editorial introduction to this collection here.
Three of these papers are co-authored by our own Network researchers, although all of them highlight, by example, our vital need for cross-disciplinary, multi-institutional approaches and long-term collaborations in order to make new progress against the old challenge of NTDs, which together threaten the lives of over a billion people worldwide. First of the reserch papers is a review co-authored by one of our NTD Network Fellows, Dr. Kalesh Karunakaran (Durham University, UK).
Our huge thanks to Professor Ariel Silber, from the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil, and the head of our South American HUB, who opened our online research seminar series today, introduced by Network Fellow Dr. Brian Mantilla and also to the 65 attendees who joined us! This is the first of a series of talks providing our NTD Network partners with a route to share findings and discuss ideas, in the absence of face-to-face research updates at our AGM this year. The seminars will take place on the first and third Wednesdays of each month, and are open to our NTD Network partners, their teams, and our international advisory panel members.
“All that was needed was shrewd questioning… to conclude once again that the symptoms of love were the same as those of cholera.”
This quote is from the novel ‘Love in a time of Cholera’ by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (‘Gabo’ to our South American colleagues), set during the sixth cholera pandemic of 1899-1923. I began reading it in January, alongside the emerging research literature on COVID-19, whilst representing our Network and the Durham Centre for Global infectious Diseases though over 30 interviews to UK local, national and international radio and TV, discussing the biology and disease epidemiology of coronaviruses. This juxtaposition has caused me to think a lot about pandemics and has brought to my awareness some surprising similarities between cholera and COVID-19. Let me explain.
On a quiet day before the start of the UK University term, the UK-based members of the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) left their desks in York and Durham Universities, for the wilds of North Yorkshire. The cosy hospitality of the locally renowned Charles Bathurst Inn (Arkengarthdale) was a warm contrast to the wild weather that swept down the valley during our meeting! This event provided a perfectly timed opportunity to review the year and think ahead, sharing ideas and insights.
Our congratulations go to Mr Naushad Akhtar, from India’s Council for Science and Industrial Research Institute of Microbial Technology (CSIR-IMTECH), for his prize-winning work!
On 17th November 2019, Naushad received the Young Researcher award for his excellent poster, submitted to the 2nd National Biomedical Research Competition, hosted at the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, India. Naushad is studying for a PhD with NTD Network member Dr Pradip Sen, Principal Scientist at CSIR-IMTECH in Chandigarh. Pradip’s research team are investigating how dendritic cells, a vital component of our immune system, responds to infection by Leishmania donovani, the parasite causing the lethal neglected tropical disease (NTD) visceral leishmaniasis, known in India as kala-azar.
“This training provided me with input which I didn’t know I needed, but has changed everything!”
“These four days have been a real turning point!”
These remarks, from Jaime Isern and Victor De Sousa-Agostino, were the first responses I heard from our two PhD students from Durham University, upon their return from the NTD Network’s medicinal chemistry training workshop, held in Medoza city, Argentina, 2nd-4th November 2019.
Winning insights: Prize awarded to young researchers investigating a new potential drug target for Chagas disease