Posted on 19 September 2014
Professor Paul Kaye, who is Director of the CII, as well as Director of C2D2, has been given a prestigious Wellcome Trust Senior Investigator Award, to continue his research on visceral leishmaniasis. These awards are given by the Wellcome Trust to support exceptional, world-class researchers, who hold an established academic position.
Leishmaniasis is one of the major neglected diseases of poverty, affecting over 1M people worldwide and the most severe form, visceral leishmaniasis or kala azar, is responsible for tens of thousands of deaths every year. This parasitic disease is spread through the bite of a female sandfly, that itself has become infected by biting someone that is either sick from the disease or carrying the parasite without knowing it. To develop tools that will help break the cycle of disease transmission, more needs to be known about how these parasites spread around the body, how they are acquired by sandflies and how variations in host immune response affects these processes.
Professor Kaye’s research addresses these questions using new models of leishmaniasis transmission, state of the art techniques in cellular immunology and molecular pathology, and computational modeling. The research will provide new knowledge directly applicable to the fight towards eliminating this devastating disease. The preliminary research supporting this new program of work was conducted in bespoke facilities for sandfly research established at York through C2D2 funding: Use of sandflies to probe Leishmania development and persistence.
Researchers in the Centre for Immunology and Infection (CII) have successfully competed against teams from other universities to win a £1M grant as part of the 2014 CRACK IT Challenge competition run jointly by the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs) and the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK.
The team is led by Prof. Paul Kaye (CII Director) and includes Dr Mark Coles and Dr Dimitris Lagos (CII), Prof. Jon Timmis (Dept. of Electronics), two York spin out companies (SimOmics and Cybula), as well as partners at LSHTM, the University of Glasgow and at Pharmidex Inc. The team won the Challenge entitled “Virtual Infectious Disease Research” with their plans to develop a novel computational model of visceral leishmaniasis coupled to a user-friendly simulation interface.
The tool will be used to predict more effective combined therapies for use in patients suffering from leishmaniasis, as well as supporting the identification of new chemo- and immuno-therapeutic targets, and helping to understand how confounding factors such as malnutrition and coinfection may influence drug and vaccine efficacy.
Contributing research was supported through several C2D2 grants and the award complements the recent York Computational Immunology Laboratory (YCIL): advancing immunology through computational modelling C2D2 consolidator grant.
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