Whipworm infection – defining and exploiting the niche biology of a parasitic intestinal nematode
Prof Richard Grencis
University of Manchester
Parasitic roundworms that live in the intestine infect hundreds of millions of people across the globe causing ill health in low-income communities. Current drugs to remove worms require repeated treatments and are ineffective for some parasites, such as whipworm. The immune system responds but cannot effectively remove these parasites.
We urgently require a greater understanding of how these parasites survive attack by our immune system and how they have adapted to thrive in our intestines alongside our commensal bacteria. We have discovered that whipworm changes our intestinal bacterial communities to their own advantage and produces a protein that neutralises a key immune molecule that the body uses to expel parasites.
We will define how the parasite changes our intestinal bacteria and how the parasite protein works so that we can intervene in these processes to develop new effective methods of parasite control.