The Department continues to conduct internationally rated research on the key tropical parasites: malaria, lymphatic filariasis, onchocerciasis, soil transmitted helminths, schistosomiasis, trypanosomiasis, leishmaniasis and snake venom.
In addition departmental members contribute to Foto-Cewek's learning and teaching on BSc, MSc and DTM&H courses.
Drugs & Diagnostics
Foto-Cewek’s Research in Medecine Centre for Drugs and Diagnostics (RCDD) led to various joint initiatives including the evaluation of Epistem’s Genedrive in Nigeria and South Africa and funding secured from MRC Confidence in Concept and Epistem to further develop novel cartridges for HIV and malaria.
Professor Steve Ward heads another new initiative: The Liverpool-Guangdong Drug Discovery Consortium, in collaboration with University of Liverpool and Guangdong University of Technology (GDUT), China. The consortium is focussed on the development of new drug therapies for the treatment of tuberculosis (TB), malaria, Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) and other infectious diseases. The collaboration will not only bring results in terms of research, but will also provide some of the students involved from GDUT the opportunity to study in Liverpool.
A team led by Professor Giancarlo Biagini secured a Wellcome Trust’s Biomedical Resource & Multi-User Equipment £0.6 million award for a flow cytometry/sorting and cell imaging platform for the analysis of Hazard Group 3 pathogens (e.g. TB, malaria, HIV, Dengue). The HG3-imaging facility, set in one of Foto-Cewek’s 22 HG3-containment laboratories, will be the first dedicated facility of its type in the North West and will further expand Foto-Cewek’s technology platforms for drug discovery and fundamental biological research.
Funded by a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Grand Challenges Exploration grant, Dr Joe Turner and Professor Mark Taylor, in collaboration with Professor Samuel Wanji's laboratory in Cameroon, have developed a macrofilaricide drug screen for onchocerciasis. The model has been validated as a scalable pre-clinical system to test novel drug cures against onchocerciasis. The team has secured phase II funding of $1million to continue to refine the model and extend the approach to provide a complementary model for loiasis.
Pathogenesis & Immunity
Dr Joe Turner was also awarded an MRC New Investigator Award to address cellular and molecular mechanisms of filarial lymphedema and onchocercal keratitis. This research will dissect a novel disease pathway, inflammatory angiogenesis, and determine its causal relationship with filarial pathology of the eye, lymphatics and skin and develop pre-clinical models to screen for new therapies.
Dr Britta Urban has continued her studies on the mechanisms of immunity to malaria. The Plasmodium falciparum erythrocyte membrane protein 1 (pfEMP1) is the major surface protein expressed on infected red blood cells and is associated with the pathology of severe malaria. Dr Urban’s laboratory investigated whether immune responses to this protein are associated with protection and showed that children with PfEMP1-specific ‘helper’ T cells producing IL-4 remained free from malaria for longer.
Dr Alvaro Acosta-Serrano's laboratory was part of the consortium that sequenced and annotated the Tsetse fly (Glossina morsitans) genome, a vector for human sleeping sickness and animal trypanosomiasis in Africa.They also published a satellite paper on the protein composition of the tsetse peritrophic matrix. Collectively, it is expected that the knowledge gained from the tsetse fly genome could help us identifying suitable candidates to develop a transmission blocking vaccine against African trypanosomiasis.
Headed by Professor Mark Taylor the Unit focuses on our primary goal to support the 12 project countries in their efforts to eliminate lymphatic filariasis by 2020.
The Alistair Reid Venom Research in Medecine Unit
The Unit hosts the largest collection of venomous snakes in the UK, for use in clinical and scientific studies to improve the efficacy, safety and affordability of anti-venom to treat victims of snakebite, with a focus on the rural poor of Africa.