The parasitic disease Schistosomiasis affects 243 million people worldwide. Having hatched from human urine or faeces contaminating water-bodies, the parasite must seek and infect a compatible water snail before developing further to infect humans. Through a Bill and Melinda Gates “Grand Challenges” award, we have been investigating chemicals produced by snails that attract schistosomes with a view to develop a synthetic decoy that lures them away from live snails and kill the parasite. The group at Brunel that is working on the attractants and the SCAN team at the Natural History Museum want to strengthen research collaboration in this area. Our ideas include:
Investigating the genes and synthetic pathways of snail schistosome attractants using genomics;
Testing schistosome attractants in laboratory and field environments;
Widening the scope of our studies to encompass a range of human and veterinary schistosome/snail combinations.