eLife Episode 39: Spotlight on tropical diseases

15 June 2017
Presented by Chris Smith.

In this special episode of the eLife Podcast, we discuss diseases common in tropical countries including tuberculosis, Zika, malaria and schistosomiasis.

In this episode

Prabhat Jha

00:22 - Why should we fund research on neglected tropical diseases?

eLife Senior Editor Prabhat Jha explains to Chris Smith why public funding is key to tackling epidemics in low-income countries...

Why should we fund research on neglected tropical diseases?
with Prabhat Jha, University of Toronto

This month, the eLife Podcst is focusing on in this edition of the programme. But why are they neglected, and why shouldn’t they be? Chris Smith speaks to eLife Senior editor and the University of Toronto's Professor of Global Health, Prabhat Jha...

Mosquito

06:48 - Shortlisting the Zika suspects

Models predict which species of mosquito may be able to carry the Zika virus in the US.

Shortlisting the Zika suspects
with Michelle Evans and Courtney Murdock, University of Georgia

One of the newest kids on the biological block is Zika virus, which we know to be spread mainly by the Aedes family of mosquitoes. But that doesn’t mean that other species can’t transmit it too. But which ones should we worry about? Chris Smith hears from Michelle Evans and Courtney Murdock, both at the University of Georgia, who have taken a leaf out of the way popular music gets sold and marketed...

A protein called TRP1 allows the parasites that cause malaria to move around inside mosquitoes.

12:40 - Malaria parasites on the move

A protein called TRP1 allows the parasites that cause malaria to move around inside mosquitoes.

Malaria parasites on the move
with Dennis Klug, University of Heidelberg

In numbers terms, malaria is probably the world’s most important tropical disease. But its lifecycle - moving from a mosquito’s blood meal into the insect’s salivary glands and then back into human blood via a liver cell - makes studying some aspects of malaria biology very difficult. Dennis Klug has been studying what goes on mid-way along the mosquito’s intestine where it forms a structure called an oocyst where the infecting parasites multiply. Speaking with Chris Smith, he’s found a critical gene that releases the progeny into the mosquito’s blood...

For a tuberculosis infection to progress, around 50 bacterial cells need to infect a single immune cell.

17:40 - Safety in numbers: how TB infects

For a tuberculosis infection to progress, around 50 bacterial cells need to infect a single immune cell.

Safety in numbers: how TB infects
with Alex Sigal, Africa Health Research Institute

It was in 1882 that Robert Koch announced to the world that he’d discovered the cause of the disease tuberculosis; he did it, in part, by looking down a microscope. But although Koch linked the TB bacterium to the disease, despite more than a century of study since, we still don’t really know how the infection unfolds in the average person. Now, speaking with Chris Smith, Africa Health Research Institute scientist Alex Sigal explains how he has also been looking down the microscope and has got a new piece to add to the TB puzzle…

Stem cells in schistosomiasis

23:38 - Schistosomiasis: what happened next?

We catch up on research into schistosomiasis that we first covered in episode 29...

Schistosomiasis: what happened next?
with Jim Collins, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center

Last year we heard from Jim Collins at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. He’s been studying schistosomes, and when we last spoke he’d just discovered one of the ways that these parasites, which multiply inside freshwater snails and then infect humans when they enter the water, fend off our immune response. Chris Smith caught up with him to hear how the work’s progressed…

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