A malaria parasite once thought confined to macaque monkeys is infecting humans more and more. Hot on its tail are researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, who are using drones to map forest changes in South East Asia, as well as tracking malaria-carrying monkeys themselves. Katherine Nightingale takes a look at the project in pictures.
You might have heard of drones being used to track herds of large animals, or in search and rescue operations, but in Sabah in Malaysian Borneo, it’s trees they’ve got their eye on.
Historically, malaria in Borneo was caused by Plasmodium falciparum, a tiny parasite which hitches a ride in mosquitoes and is transmitted to people through its bite. But now people in Borneo are more likely to be infected with a parasite called Plasmodium knowlesi, which is just as severe in people as Plasmodium falciparum, even though the infection is mild in its usual targets of short-tailed and pig-tailed macaque monkeys. Read more
It’s European Antibiotic Awareness Day today, and the MRC, BBSRC and EPSRC have produced a new timeline looking at progress in tackling antibiotic resistance over the past few decades. Here we’ve picked just four examples ― from glowing infections to a smartphone app ― reflecting the four themes of a cross-research council antimicrobial resistance funding call to give you a taster of research in this area.
(Image: S.Schuller, Wellcome Images under CC by 4.0)
Germs that glow
Being able to observe how bacteria and other bugs move around the body is crucial to knowing how to tackle them. In an MRC-funded study, Professor Gad Frankel at Imperial College London developed a way to infect mice with Citrobacter rodentium bacteria that had been genetically modified to produce light.  His team could then track this glowing infection around the mouse’s body in real time, and regular CT scans showed how different vaccines and antibiotics change the way bacteria take over parts of the body. Read more
(Image copyright: Clare Ogden and Sonya Chowdhury)
At the inaugural conference of the UK CFS/ME Research Collaborative in September researchers in the field of chronic fatigue syndrome and myalgic encephalomyelitis got together with scientists from a range of other fields in an effort to spur on research into new areas. Here Professor Stephen Holgate, MRC Clinical Professor of Immunopharmacology at the Faculty of Medicine in Southampton, and Chair of the collaborative, explains why the conference was so significant, and what came out of it.
CFS/ME is a complex disease. In fact, it may not be just one disease at all. I say ‘may’ because there’s a lot we don’t know about CFS/ME ― and we desperately need research to get some answers.
It is a chronic condition characterised by severe fatigue, weak and painful muscles and/or joints, poor memory and concentration, and poor sleep. Not everyone will have the same symptoms, or the same severity of symptoms. We’re not certain what causes it, and although it often occurs after an infection or accident, it can also come on gradually.
So, we have a condition with no known cause, that manifests itself in different people in different ways and severities, and at different times. It’s obviously a field that is ripe for discovery. But so far, for a variety of reasons, we haven’t been able to get these answers. Read more