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PhD Studentship: Is the Microbiome a Modifiable Virulence Factor for Cryptosporidiosis?

University of East Anglia

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Norwich
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students, International Students
Funding amount: Competition Funded Project (Home and International)
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 31st October 2023
Closes: 15th January 2024
Reference: TYLERK_U24FMH

Is the microbiome a modifiable virulence factor for cryptosporidiosis?

How ill diseases make us varies considerably, some may scarcely be affected by infections that others may die from. This difference in virulence relates to differences in the pathogen causing disease, interaction with the host and its immune responses and with the hosts microbial environment (microbiome).  Cryptosporidiosis is caused by a malaria-like protozoan parasite of the small intestine. It is a zoonotic disease, a major diarrhoeal disease, that is highly transmissible through the environment, waterborne and chlorine resistant. In humans it is the non-vaccine preventable diarrhoeal disease which causes the most mortality in the under 5s with 200,000 deaths per annum. For livestock which are a large reservoir for human cryptosporidiosis, economic losses amount to several billion dollars per annum to the livestock sector. As with humans it is the young offspring that are primarily affected; the same agent causing essentially the same disease in young children and calves. A new vaccine for livestock based on the passive transfer of maternal immunity in colostrum to the antigen GP40 could pave the way for an analogous human vaccine - an excellent example of how ONE HEALTH principals can be applied to development of new human medicines. 

During this studentship, an in vitro model will be adopted in the laboratory and infected samples from humans and livestock will also be analysed. This student will focus on the vitro infection of human enteric mucosa by cryptosporidium in the presence of microbiota and will evaluate the effect of the opsonizing antibody on infection of the intestinal epithelia considering how opsonization of the invasive parasite stages impacts how they are taken up, how they grow, the inflammatory response they elicit and the damage to the mucosa. The student will also liaise with our partners at the Earlham Institute to undertake a bioinformatic analysis of the MICROBIOME during infection for protected and unprotected animals to evaluate if the observed reduction in pathology in vaccine protected livestock is linked to dysbiosis and particularly the presence or absence of proinflammatory bacteria.

This PhD project is in a Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences competition for funded studentships.  These studentships are funded for 3 years and comprise UK (Home) fees, an annual stipend of £18,622 and £1,000 per annum for research training (RTSG). International applicants may apply but are required to secure additional funding to fund the difference between UK and overseas tuition fees (visit: https://www.uea.ac.uk/study/fees-and-funding/fees for details of Home and Overseas fee rates).

Primary Supervisor: Kevin Tyler

Start Date: October 2024

For more information on this project, please visit https://www.uea.ac.uk/search/courses/

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