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From The Walking Dead to Alien, we’re constantly seeing glimpses of a dystopian future with zombie viruses and aliens taking control of our bodies. This evening our speakers will explore parasites that might hitch a ride, causing distress to our bodies. Just how much control do they have over our bodies? Will learning their manipulative ways in interacting with our immune system help our own health?
How the malaria parasite remodels and takes over a human host cell
Dr Julian Rayner (Senior Group Leader and Director of Wellcome Genome Campus Connecting Science, Wellcome Sanger Institute)
Julian’s research seeks to understand the interactions between Plasmodium parasites and human cells, in order to identify and prioritise new drug and vaccine targets. He focusses on the stage of the parasite life cycle that infects human red blood cells, as it is this stage that causes all the symptoms and pathology of malaria.
Worms from water and what we are learning about them.
Dr Shona Wilson (University Lecturer, Division of Microbiology and Parasitology, Department of Pathology)
Epidemiology and immunology of helminth infections. Schistosomiasis is a debilitating, sometimes fatal, parasitic worm infection that chronically afflicts some 200 million people in many of the world’s poorest countries. Free-living parasite larvae, released into freshwater by snails, can rapidly penetrate intact human skin. Adult worms then develop and live in the human blood stream for many years, releasing thousands of tissue-damaging eggs. With colleagues in Tanzania, I am examining the relationships between environmental factors and age-dependent immunity.
Worms inside us - a terrifying fairy tale
Dr Cinzia Cantacessi (Senior Lecturer in Parasitology, Department of Veterinary Medicine)
Gastrointestinal parasites are being explored as an alternative therapeutic strategy against a range of chronic inflammatory disorders, such as inflammatory bowel disease, and multiple sclerosis. I study the intimate molecular mechanisms that govern the relationships between parasites and their vertebrate hosts to find their 'Achille's heels' , so we can test novel therapeutic interventions, as well as to gain a thorough understanding of the ability of parasites to suppress exacerbated immune responses.