LCNTDR researchers awarded prestigious Wellcome Trust Biomedical Resource Grant

31 Oct 2020

A team of LCNTDR researchers from NHM and LSHTM have been awarded a prestigious Wellcome Trust Biomedical Resource Grant worth more than £1 million over five years. Dr Bonnie Webster (NHM), Dr Aidan Emery (NHM) and Dr Amaya Bustinduy (LSHTM) will create a Schistosome and Snail Resource (SSR) to support global schistosomiasis research by maintaining live material, lifecycles and collections that are currently limited or that do not exist elsewhere. The SSR will provide access to the “standard/model” Schistosoma and snail species; key African Schistosoma species/strains; and cultures of diverse snail vectors, enhancing current research and capacity while enabling new research avenues. The SSR will add considerable value by facilitating priority research needed to support schistosomiasis control and elimination.

Schistosomes, transmitted by fresh-water snails, infect >200 million people in low/middle income countries, particularly sub-Saharan Africa. While substantial advances have been made in the control of human schistosomiasis, the diversity and complexity of schistosomes and their specific fresh-water snail hosts warrants fundamental research requiring lifecycles, live material and diverse collections. Without the availability of Schistosoma lifecycles, future research faces substantial obstacles; currently very few labs are able to maintain the parasites and/or the snail hosts and current long-term cultures/collections lack the genetic heterogeneity observed in natural populations. The SSR will address these issues and advance research on schistosomiasis.