Schistosomiasis is a parasitic disease caused by blood flukes from the genus Schistosoma. There are three species of the parasite, which are passed from person to person via small larvae called cercariae released from snails in freshwater. The disease is common in South America, Africa, Cambodia, Laos, China, Indonesia and the Middle East.
QIMR Berghofer researchers work with Schistosoma mansoni which is prevalent in Africa and South America and Schistosoma japonicum which occurs in China and the Philippines.
There are over 200 million people with the disease worldwide (Source: WHO), contributing to several hundreds of thousands of deaths across 76 nations.
Control of schistosomiasis is based on drug treatment, snail control, improved sanitation and health education.
Our research focuses on:
- investigating the role of iron in schistosome development
- understanding how schistosomes change their surface proteins to avoid the immune response
- identifying novel parasite molecules for vaccine targets
- undertaking extensive surveys of schistosomiasis for future control and elimination of the disease.