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$1.5 million in Gates funding for neglected diseases

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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

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A group at Imperial dedicated to eliminating neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) has received $1.5 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to improve control of a disease passed to humans by pigs.

The Schistosomiasis Control Initiative (SCI) based in the School of Public Health will research how efforts to combat the tapeworm infection cysticercosis can be integrated into existing prevention programmes.

The tapeworm Taenia solium, acquired by eating infected pork, resides in the human gut, where it normally causes little harm to the affected person. Cysticercosis is caused by consuming the eggs of the tapeworm, by contamination of food or water with faeces from infected humans. These eggs grow into cysts in the tissues, including the brain, where they can cause severe neurological problems such as epilepsy.

For the last eight years, the SCI has been involved in delivering drugs to treat NTDs across sub-Saharan Africa but until recently zoonotic diseases – those transmitted from animals to humans – have not been considered for funding as part of the programme.

“It’s vitally important that we explore ways to further maximise the impact of existing NTD control programmes, to ensure that we’re using the limited resources available in the most effective way to benefit the most vulnerable communities,” said Dr Wendy Harrison, Deputy Director of the SCI.

Contact: Sam Wong, Communications and Development

Source: Imperial College London
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