2 major new grants awarded to EID members bring in over £900K to the University of Edinburgh

Two major new grants have just been awarded to EID members! 

Dr David Cavanagh in the Institute of Immunology and Infection Research, University of Edinburgh, has received a £432K grant from the Wellcome Trust's Biomedical Resources Scheme for the The European Malaria Reference Reagent Repository.

The global burden of malaria is estimated to be responsible for more than 1 million deaths per year, of which many are children. Effective tools and reagents are vital to the development of drugs and vaccines and to understand the biology of the malaria parasite and interactions with the host.

The purpose of the Malaria Reference Reagent Repository is to share useful reagents with members of the European Malaria Vaccine Development Association (EMVDA) and the wider malaria research community, with the overall aim of developing effective vaccines against malaria. EMVDA partners include the University of Edinburgh, UK; European Vaccine Initiative, Germany; African Malaria Network Trust, Tanzania; Etna Biotech, Italy; and Statens Serum Institut, Denmark . The aim of sharing malaria reference reagents is to assist in the standardisation and comparison of assays between labs and to enhance the strong element of co-operation already present in this consortium.  Given the potential of high throughput molecular analysis methods and the increasing interest in examining genetic diversity, the potential of archived isolates to provide new material, including clones, will become increasingly valuable. Furthermore, the repository will be scientifically independent and have an open access policy to users (regardless of national and political origin).

More information about the European Malaria Reference Reagent Repository can be found on their website.

In the second major grant, Dr Neil Mabbott at the Roslin Institute was awarded £476K by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council for a study which aims to determine the role of M cells in the neuroinvasion of transmissible spongiform encephalopathy agents, such as prions, from the intestine. 

The digestive tract's immune system is often referred to as gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT) and works to protect the body from invasion.  An important component of the GALT system is the M or microfold cell. M cells endocytose a variety of protein and peptide antigens and transport them into the underlying tissue, where they are taken up by local dendritic cells and macrophages.  However this system may also be exploited by pathogens, such as prion proteins, to gain entry to mucosal tissues.

Previous work from the Mabbott lab has shown that in a mouse model of oral prion infection, depletion of M cells prior to oral infection with the ME7 strain of scrapie prions, prevented disease-associated accumulations of PrP in lymphoid tissues.   The mice also did not develop clinical signs or brain pathology following oral ME7 infection. The results suggest that M cells are important sites of prion uptake from the gut lumen into lymphoid tissue in vivo following oral exposure. This new award will fund further research into the role of M cells play in neuroinvasion of TSE agents from the intestine.


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