Researchers tackle neglected tropical diseases

Scientists from the University of Glasgow are focusing their attention on neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) thanks to a £240,805 grant from British Council.

The funding enables researchers from Glasgow, together with colleagues at  the Centro Internacional de Entrenamiento e Investigaciones Médicas (CIDEIM) Colombia, to study NTDs in detail by taking a ‘polyomics’ approach.

Polyomics is the science of studying the genome, transcriptome, proteome and metabolome of any biological system using state-of-the-art equipment to understand disease processes.

The team then hope to translate their findings into applicable treatments for affected populations.

Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) continue to impose a major social and economic burden globally. Twelve of the 17 NTDs identified by the World Health Organisation (WHO), including dengue and leishmaniasis, are endemic in Colombia.

The recognized impact of NTDs led to establishment of the Colombian National Program for the prevention, control and elimination of NTDs 2013-2017, endorsing the 2013 WHO resolution to defeat NTDs.

Dr Richard Burchmore, of the University of Glasgow, who is working with Dr Maria Adelaida Gomez at CIDEIM on the project, said: “We will use state-of-the-art biochemical mass spectrometry to understand the biology of NTDs such as leishmaniasis, tuberculosis, schistosomiasis and malaria.

“These techniques allow us to study disease processes in great detail by looking at the role played by gene structures, proteins and other small molecules.

“We wish to build upon our existing research collaboration, which is based on the application of ‘omic’ approaches to understand factors which influence Leishmania pathology and therapeutic response, and expand it to the institutional level by developing and sustaining a reciprocal training program for Colombian and UK investigators who are engaged in NTD research.”

The CIDEIM in Cali, Colombia, is a biomedical research institution devoted to mitigating the impact of NTDs in Colombia through biomedical research and to build local capacity in infectious diseases research. Investigations conducted by Dr Gomez and her team aim to find better control strategies and treatment options for patients with leishmaniasis.

First published: 13 September 2015