Laboratory group of Jan Dvořák was awarded a prize by Merck for research on the human parasitic disease called schistosomiasis. The financial contribution will be used for work on the characterization of parasite molecules that interact with the human immune system.
Schistosomiasis (bilharziasis) is a chronic infectious disease caused by trematode blood flukes from the genus Schistosoma. It remains a global health problem as these helminth parasites infect around 250 million people and up to 600 million people are at risk of infection. Schistosomes affect humans in parts of Asia, the Middle East, Africa, the Caribbean and South America. Recently, reintroduction of schistosomiasis to the Mediterranean area was reported. The aim is to understand the modulation of the host physiological processes mediated by excretory/secretory products of their eggs. Eggs modulate the host immune responses in favor of the parasite survival. Their secretory products are in focus as candidates for promising therapeutic approaches to target directly schistosomiasis or to use schistosomes as an instrumental model to reveal basic mechanisms of parasite-host interactions. Uncovering modulatory molecules and their mechanism of action will help to understand the profound mechanisms of the host immune system while exposed to parasite infection. Therefore, the proposed project is based on a unique comparative study based on molecular biology and biochemistry.