Imaging the life and death of filarial parasites

The student will exploit new transgenic tools to introduce mobile genetic elements encoding fluorescent and luminescent proteins into the genome of the filarial parasite Brugia malayi. The growth, survival and progeny of successful transfections will be evaluated in both in vitro culture systems and in vivo. In tandem, the student will trial non-transgenic, transient labelling of B. malayi and other medical or veterinary important filariaeusing fluorescent protein-labelling dyes and SuperParamagnetic Iron Oxide Nanoparticles (SPION). 

Successful labelling approaches will be piloted to track blood or lymphatic filarial infections using whole animal intravital bioimaging technology platforms (optical imaging and magnetic resonance imaging) in collaboration with MRC/UKRMP Centre for Preclinical Imaging, University of Liverpool.   The studentship goal will be to visualise parasite motility, tissue migration and parasite fate post-therapeutic treatments for drug or vaccine development applications.

Where does the project lie on the Translational Pathway?

T1 (Basic Research)

Expected Outputs

Authorship of major research articles detailing the application of the technologies for drug and/or vaccine development applications

Proof-of-concept of technology application for onward grant funding

Training Opportunities


Molecular parasitology

Molecular and cellular immunology

Skills Required

Some prior experience of molecular biology and/or whole animal physiology would be beneficial but not essential

Key Publications associated with this project

New macrolides as short-course oral anti-Wolbachia therapy for filariasis

Taylor MJ, von Geldern T, Ford L, Hübner M, Marsh K, Johnston K, Sjoberg H, Specht S, Pionnier N, Tyrer H, Clare R, Cook D, Murphy E, Steven A, Archer J, Bloemker D, Lenz F, Koschel E, Ehrens A, Metuge H, Chunda V, Chounna P, Njouendou A, Fombad F, Carr R, Morton H, Aljayyoussi G, Hoerauf A, Wanji S, Kempf D, Turner JD and Ward SA.Science Translational Medicine 2018 accepted

Evaluation of in vitro culture systems for the maintenance of microfilariae and infective larvae of Loa loa

Zofou D, Fombad F, Gandjui N, Njouendou A, Kengne-Ouafo AJ, Chounna P, Datchoua-Poutcheu F, Enyong P, Tayong D, Taylor MJ, Turner JD and Wanji S Parasit Vectors 2018 11(1):275.

Validation of ultrasound bioimaging to predict worm burden and treatment efficacy in preclinical filariasis drug screening models

MarriottAE, SjobergH, TyrerH, GambleJ, MurphyE,  ArcherJ, StevenA, TaylorMJ, TurnerJD

Sci Rep 2018 8:5910

A murine macrofilaricide pre-clinical screening model for onchocerciasis and lymphatic filariasis.Halliday A, Guimaraes AF, Tyrer HE, Metuge HM, Patrick CN, Arnaud KO, Kwenti TD, Forsbrook G, Steven A, Cook D, Enyong P, Wanji S, Taylor MJTurner JD.

Parasit Vectors. 2014 Oct 24;7:472. doi: 10.1186/s13071-014-0472-z

Fluorescent imaging of antigen released by a skin-invading helminth reveals differential uptake and activation profiles by antigen presenting cells.

Paveley, R.A., S.A. Aynsley, P.C. Cook, J.D. Turner, A.P. Mountford.

PLoS neglected tropical diseases, 2009. 3(10): p. e528.

LSTM Themes and Topics – Key Words

Neglected Tropical Diseases

Deadline: Thursday 11th February 2021; 12:00 noon GMT

Further details on the MRC/DTP and CASE programmes and application guidance and process can be found here