Developmental mechanisms in the disease transmitting host snail Biomphalaria glabrata

Theme: Natural & Biological Hazards

Primary Supervisor:

Anne Lockyer

Institute for the Environment, BRUNEL

Project Description:

The chronic debilitating disease schistosomiasis, (bilharzia), is caused by trematode parasites and affects around 200 million people, across 75 developing countries. The freshwater snail Biomphalaria glabrata, intermediate host of Schistosoma mansoni (causative agent of human intestinal schistosomiasis), has become a model system for studying host-parasite interactions.

Disrupting snail development/survival may be the key to breaking the blood-fluke lifecycle and stopping disease transmission, since snail control measures, in combination with drug treatment, is considered the best approach. This project aims to use quantitative PCR, in situ hybridization and gene knockdown to uncover novel gene targets in the snail (from the recently sequenced genome) that, if disrupted, could lead to control of snail numbers.

Policy Impact of Research:

This project will provide information that could aid the development of future methods to eliminate the intermediate snail host for schistosomiasis.

This is significant also for other mollusc transmitted diseases in both humans and animals.


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