LSTM research unit at CRID

Who we are?


The LSTM research unit at CRID is a part of the Vector Biology Department at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, a world leading research in the field of tropical medicine, especially in medical entomology.
 

What is our research about?


The overall goal of work in our laboratory is to understand the biology, genetics and genomics of mosquitoes’ vectors diseases such as Malaria, Lymphatic filariasis, Dengue, Chikungunya and zika, including population genetics studies and investigation of insecticide resistance mechanisms in malaria vectors (Anopheles funestus, An arabiensis and An gambiae), in dengue vectors (Aedes aegypti and Ae albopictus) and the Lymphatic filariasis vector (Culex quinquefasciatus).

STAFF


Prof Charles WONDJI

Head of the Unit


Mrs Murielle WONDJI

Lab Manager at CRID


Mr Benjamin MENZE

PhD Student


Dr Sulaiman SADI

Biochemistry


Dr Gareth WEEDALL

Bioinformatics


Mrs Helen ERVING

Lab Manager at LSTM


PROJECTS


Project title: Dynamics of insecticide resistance in Anopheles funestus


Insecticide-based control interventions, notably Indoor Residual Spraying (IRS) and Long Lasting Insecticide Nets (LLINs), are key and critical components for malaria control in Africa. Unfortunately, increasing resistance to the available insecticides classes in the major malaria vectors African such as Anopheles funestus across Africa is threatening the continued effectiveness of these control tools. The international community has now recognised that if suitable resistance management strategies to preserve the efficacy of current insecticides are not developed, this resistance will negatively impact the success of LLINs and IRS with devastating public health consequences. To underpin the design of successful resistance management strategies, I aim to investigate the dynamics of insecticide resistance in An. funestus across Africa by elucidating the underlying molecular mechanisms, the evolution and spread of resistance and assessing impact of resistance on malaria transmission. The project has three broad aims:

  • Aim 1 is to elucidate the molecular basis of pyrethroid, DDT and carbamate resistance and cross-resistance in An. funestus across Africa using Next-generation sequencing and functional analyses.
  • Aim 2 is to predict the evolution and spread of resistance by defining patterns of gene flow and selective sweeps in field populations. Aim 3 is to assess the impact of resistance on An. funestus biology (fitness cost, malaria transmission) and on control interventions using experimental huts trials.

This project will benefit from the knowledge and tools generated during my Wellcome Trust career development fellowship.


Project title: Assessment of the entomological risk of emergence of massive epidemics of Dengue, Zika and Chikungunya and preparation for a better control of Aedes vectors in Central Africa.


Funding Partners: Wellcome Trust
Duration: 3 years
Principal Investigators: Dr Basile KAMGANG, Mr Armel TEDJOU, Mr WILSON BAHUN Théodel, Mrs Aurélie YOUGANG

Evaluation of the entomological risk of emergence of massive epidemics of Dengue, Zika and Chikungunya and preparation for a better control of Aedes vectors in Central Africa. Aedes aegypti and Ae. albopictus are the main vectors of arbovirus diseases such as dengue, zika and chikungunya. Ae. Aegypti is native to Central Africa, while Ae. albopictus, native to Asia, was reported for the first time in Central Africa in the 2000s in Cameroon. Since then, this mosquito has colonized almost all countries in the region coinciding with the emergence of dengue, zika and chikungunya viruses in urban areas of some Central African countries. Control of these diseases is based on entomological surveillance and vector control. This requires detailed information on the bio ecology, vector competence and resistance status of the mosquito vectors involved.
The lack of essential information currently prevents the development of adequate measures to control these diseases in the region. To fill these gaps, we plan this project: to document the geographical distribution and the degree of infestation by Ae. Aegypti and Ae. Albopictus; Evaluate their vector competence for dengue virus; And to characterize their resistance profiles and their mechanisms against the main insecticides. This project will help determine the consequences of this invasion of Ae. albopictus for epidemiological transmission and the risk of emergence of massive arbovirus outbreaks in Cameroon and the Republic of Congo.


Project title: Impact of insecticide resistance on mosquito salivary proteins and its consequences on vectorial capacity of major malaria vectors in Africa.


Funding Partners: Wellcome Trust
Duration: 3 years
Principal Investigators: Dr Emmanuel ELANGA, Mrs Lynda DJOUNKWA, Mr Achille BINYANG

This project aims to study the effects of insecticide resistance on salivary protein composition in natural populations of malaria vectors in Africa and to evaluate the consequences for malaria parasite transmission. The project will attempt to answer the following scientific questions:

  1. Do insecticide resistance mechanisms used in public health influence the expression of salivary proteins in natural populations of major vectors of malaria?
  2. Can modulation of salivary protein expression have an impact on blood meal performance, plasmodium invasion into the salivary glands, and vectorial capacity of anopheles?

The expected results would provide relevant information on malaria transmission in the context of insecticide resistance and will also contribute to the management of insecticide resistance, which is fundamental for the efficient control of vectors.


Project title: Accelerating malaria elimination efforts in the Sahelian region in Africa: elucidation of factors driving transmission and unraveling the molecular basis of insecticide resistance in the major malaria vectors.


Funding Partners: Wellcome Trust
Duration: 3 years
Principal Investigators: Dr Sulaiman SADI, Mr Amen Fadel Nakebang

The push to eliminate malaria has begun with the year 2030 set as the deadline (World Health Organisation, 2015), but this target cannot be realised unless considerable progress can be made in controlling malaria in countries like Nigeria-with the highest burden in the world. The gap in knowledge is even greater in Sahelian and arid regions of Nigeria and neighbouring countries such as Cameroon, Chad and Nigeria which by the intermittent transmission pattern are prime regions to drive the elimination effort. Unfortunately, factors driving malaria transmission in these drier regions remain largely uncharacterised.

The major objectives of the study are:
  1. Establishment of entomological indices: The primary vector(s) in these regions, their seasonality, their vectorial capacity and insecticide resistance status.
  2. Molecular markers of resistance for the sahelian region: Identify resistance markers which can help establish DNA-based diagnostic to rapidly detect resistance in the field.
  3. Synergists: Screening of natural and synthetic synergists from different chemical classes with view of establishing their efficacy towards vector control and safety in terms of human exposure.


Project title: Tracking contemporary gene flow in Anopheles funestus using patterns of genetic diversity of key insecticide resistance genes.


Funding Partners: Ifakara Health Institute
Duration: 3 years
Principal Investigators: Prof Charles WONDJI

Research questions:


  1. How can the spread of resistance alleles help to assess the extent of barriers to gene flow in An. funestus?
  2. Can patterns of selective sweep in major resistance loci help to establish level of contemporary gene flow across Tanzania and E8 countries?


Project title: Testing of new insecticides on field population of Anopheles funestus in Cameroon.


Funding Partners: IVCC
Principal Investigators: Prof Charles WONDJI


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