At NeTroDis, our research work focuses on parasitic NTDs which are affect over 1 billion people in the world’s poorest and most marginalized communities. They cause debilitating illness, reduced life expectancy, and many lead to severe disfigurement and disability. These diseases make it difficult for children to learn and for adults to work, thereby wasting huge potential, keeping entire communities trapped in poverty, and costing developing economies billions each year.
There are 7 research themes and teams on parasitic NTDs at NeTroDis. These are the;
- Onchocerciasis Research Team (Oncho Team)
- Schistosomiasis Team (Schisto Team)
- Soil-Transmitted Helminthiasis Team (SoTraH Team)
- Lymphatic Filariasis Team (LF Team)
- Emerging Pathogens team (EmePath Team)
The filariasis team is involved in basic and applied research on onchocerciasis. The team has ongoing epidemiological research work in 15 study communities in the Bono Region and the Bono East Region of Ghana. Findings made during these epidemiological are made available to the Ghana NTD programme to help inform policy implementation.
The Oncho team also has specific interest in the basic biology and biochemistry of Onchocerca volvulus (causative agent of onchocerciasis) parasites as well as key aspects of the biology of the host-parasite relationship. The goal of the team is to discover new drug, diagnostic and vaccine targets of onchocerciasis.
The Oncho team further engages in research on climate change and its impacts on the vectors of onchocerciasis as well as studying the environmental niches of these parasites. The team then uses environmental niche modelling to aid in predicting possible transmission zones of the disease in the country.
Tools utilized by the team include surveys, microscopy (light and fluorescence microscopy) and molecular biology tools such as PCR, ELISA, cloning and next generation sequencing.
The Schisto team is passionate about two crucial NTDs i. e. schistosomiasis (genital and intestinal schistosomiasis). The team has study sites in the Bono Region, Ahafo Region and the Bono East Regions of Ghana. Ongoing research by the team includes epidemiological studies to assess prevalence, intensity and clinical manifestations of these diseases with the goal to contribute towards providing epidemiological data to support evidence-based control by the national programme.
The team further studies the basic biology of the parasite as well as search for novel drug and diagnostic targets to help fill critical gaps in the area. Tools typically utilized include questionnaires, microscopy (light and fluorescence microscopy), molecular biology tools such as PCR, ELISA, cloning and next generation sequencing.
The SoTraH Team studies intestinal worms infecting humans that are transmitted through contaminated soil. An estimated 1.5 billion people are infected with soil-transmitted helminths worldwide. They include the roundworm (Ascaris lumbricoides), the whipworm (Trichuris trichiura) and hookworms (Necator americanus and Ancylostoma duodenale) and Strongyloides stercoralis.
Currently, the SoTraH team is involved in epidemiological studies including operational and implementation research on these infections in study communities. Tools utilized include surveys as well as field testing of new diagnostic approaches on the field.
Lymphatic filariasis is a human disease caused by parasitic worms known as filarial worms. The disease can manifest as either hydrocele and/or elephantiasis with severely debilitating outcomes. The WHO estimates that 859 million people in 50 countries worldwide remain threatened by lymphatic filariasis and require preventive chemotherapy to stop the spread of this parasitic infection. Our ongoing research includes epidemiological studies to determine prevalence, transmission dynamics, co-infections and intensity as well as clinical manifestations of the infection in endemic communities.
An emerging pathogen can be defined as the causative agent of an infectious disease whose incidence is increasing following its appearance in a new host population or whose incidence is increasing in an existing host population as a result of long-term changes in its underlying epidemiology. Due to wildlife exploitation and encroachment in natural habitats of wild animals, humans are increasingly vulnerable to new zoonotic infections which ‘jump’ from wildlife to humans with potentially more devasting consequences.
At NeTroDis, we are interested particularly in how co-infections of NTDs and emerging pathogens affect their transmission, natural history and disease outcomes.