TrypanoGEN: An integrated approach to the identification of genetic determinants of susceptibility to trypanosomiasis

Principal Investigator: Enock Matovu

 Makerere, University Kampala, Uganda

Scientific Description: The over-arching aim of this network is to improve the health of people living in some of the poorest countries in the world that carry a disproportionate burden of infectious diseases. Despite their importance, the study of many tropical diseases has lagged behind that of diseases of developed countries. This network will redress the balance by performing high quality research into the neglected tropical disease of human African trypanosomiasis.

High level objectives:

To create an extensive biobank of both retrospective and prospective samples. In order to deliver this scientific objective, it will be necessary to achieve underpinning capacity building objectives; to establish a pan-African, interdisciplinary research team incorporating parasitologists, geneticists, genome analysts, clinicians, ethicists and bioinformaticians; to train personnel in diagnosis/sampling and depositories for both retrospective and prospective and to provide underpinning infrastructure.

To generate a database of human genetic variation from different African countries that will be available to the wider scientific community for research on other diseases and analysis of human genetic diversity and evolution. In order to deliver this scientific objective, it will be necessary to achieve the capacity building objective of enhancing local research capacity via development of training in advanced genomics.

Lay Description: Human African Trypanosomiasis (HAT) afflicts tens of thousands in rural sub-Saharan Africa. The study of this important disease has lagged behind, yet improved treatment is urgently needed. The aim of this project is to apply the latest advances in scientific research to HAT and subsequently train the next generation of African scientists to conduct further high-quality research into neglected tropical diseases. Our research strategy will exploit the fact that some people are naturally able to control or even eliminate the parasites. By comparing the genes in resistant and susceptible people we will identify genes/molecular pathways that are crucial in controlling the disease.