Provision of B. glabrata infected with S.mansoni to the scientific community within the UK
Schistosoma mansoni is a parasitic trematode that contributes to the infectious human disease schistosomiasis, which affects in excess of 240 million people worldwide. According to the WHO more than 700 million people live in endemic areas. The disease is generally found in Africa, Asia and South America in areas where there is poor sanitation and limited access to clean drinking water.
Currently a single chemotherapeutic agent, praziquantel (PZQ), has been identified to combat this disease. However, PZQ is ineffective against juvenile worms, often necessitating repeated treatment. With no anti-Schistosoma vaccine on the horizon, mass drug administration programs form the only line of defence in controlling this disease. Clearly, further research efforts are essential for reducing the impact of this helminth on human populations. Many of these research efforts rely on the continuous supply of parasite material, a service previously fulfilled by the US NIH-funded Biodefense and Emerging Infectious (BEI) research resources repository. However, recent changes in circumstances have meant that provision of this material to the UK is unlikely to be sustainable.
Here in Aberystwyth, we maintain the full S. mansoni life-cycle. In response to the increasing demand for parasite material within the UK, we propose to scale-up our production of parasite material in order to meet these demands as a payable service.
Our method of batch-infection results in >85% of snails becoming infected with S. mansoni following miricidia exposure.
The number of cercariae that can be recovered is dependent on a number of factors, but on average, our snails produce ~1500 cercs/snail when shed for 1 hour twice weekly. Furthermore, in our experience, once they reach patency and begin shedding cercariae, our snail stocks have an excellent survival rate with more than 60% of our population still alive and shedding 8 weeks post-miracidia exposure.
We are confident that our methods will make it possible to supply UK research groups with good quality, consistent material that will continue to provide parasites for extended periods of time.
If you are interested in accessing our service, please do get in touch!