The Schistosomias Consortium for Operation Research and Elimination (SCORE: https//score.uga.edu) represents of consortium of operational research projects focused on the tools and strategies required for use by country programmes to control, and where possible, eliminate schistosomiasis. SCORE’s focus is on the two major disease-causing schistosomes in Africa – S. mansoni and S. haematobium. We lead the schistosome population genetics components within SCORE. The principle aim of this complementary research project is to further our understanding of the population structure and evolution of schistosomes in relation to the impact of differential mass human chemotherapy programmes in order to interpret prevailing patterns of infection and disease and to guide and target future disease control activities. Using our non-invasive, ethically and biologically appropriate molecular sampling and analyses, we specifically test what differences the contrasting treatment regimes have on a variety of key parameters, such as: how successful treatments actually are at clearing infections; what are the impact of drug holidays on population genetic structure and potential gene flow, what is the the role of refugia on any bottlenecks imposed; are there any persistent genotypes or genotype combinations; and what is the impact of lowering effective worm population size? Results to date suggest, for instance, that population genetic analyses can be used to predict future hot-spots of infection as well as highlight the increased impact of multiple control interventions, in in particular snail control, on reducing the burden on infection. As for our ZELS programme above, all parasite specimens are being biobanked within SCAN, a global repository of schistosomiasis collections at the Natural History Museum.
Collaborators & Funders:
SCORE is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation via a grant to the University of Georgia Research Foundation (UGARF) (RVC references RR374-053/4785426 & RR374-053/5054146).