Olfat Hammam is a pathologist working at the Theodor Bilharz Research Institute (TBRI), Giza, Egypt, specialized in schistosomiasis. The objective of her yearlong sabbatical at Standford University, Palo Alto, California, was to conduct a research on the various mechanisms responsible for the association between urogenital schistomiasis and bladder cancer, and make a comparison in squamous cell carcinomas of the bladder in Europe, USA and Egypt, in order to better understand the links between Schistomiasis and these cancers. Working with Michael Hsieh, she learned up-to-date techniques in schistosomiasis research and animal modeling. Olfat Hammam contributed her pathology experience to the Stanford University by training laboratory members in immunohistochemistry and immunofluorescence methods.
Michael Hsieh is a urologist whose research interests include the roles of inflammation in defense against pathogens and carcinogenesis; mouse models of urogenital schistosomiasis; characterization of parasite-derived, host modulatory proteins as potential biomarkers of morbidity; and therapeutic exploitation of parasite-derived, host modulatory proteins for various diseases. He also hosts scientists interested in receiving training in his areas of expertise.
Accurate diagnosis of malaria and other parasitic diseases is challenging in field settings. Expensive, non-transportable equipment is usually required, significantly limiting timely diagnoses. In an effort to address this, Dr. Prakash developed the Foldscope, a lightweight, durable, inexpensive microscope made out of paper. The Foldscope provides sufficient magnification to diagnose several parasitic diseases including Malaria, HAT, leishmaniasis, and Schistosomiasis. Dr. Oyibo leads the ANDI Center of Excellence for Malaria Diagnosis at the University of Lagos, and hosted Dr. Prakash and his colleagues in Nigeria, providing plasma and whole blood samples from Plasmodium-infected individuals to test the Foldscope’s efficacy for Malaria diagnosis. While in Nigeria, the Stanford investigators also conducted training workshops on the Foldscope, and received input from infectious disease pathologists to further inform development of the technology. Plasma and whole blood samples to test the efficacy of a point-of-care microscopy diagnostic tool; hosting of Stanford researchers at University of Lagos for research and training; expertise sharing and feedback from infectious disease pathologists at the University of Lagos regarding Foldscope development.
Dr. Qvit was working with Dr. Mochly-Rosen to develop peptides that inhibit Leishmania-activated C kinase receptor homologue (LACK). Previous studies had shown that Leishmania LACK knockouts were nonviable, and parasites that expressed low levels of LACK were unable to infect immunocompromised mice. Dr. Qvit’s peptides had shown promise in in vitro assays, and he was interested in testing his peptides in vivo. BVGH connected Dr. Qvit with Dr. Siqueira-Neto at UCSD, who tested the peptides in his in vitro assays before he planned to test them in vivo. The compounds did not show activity in Dr. Siqueira-Neto’s in vitro assays, and he provided recommendations to Dr. Qvit for improving permeability before pursuing further testing.
A KCCR researcher provided Stanford University researchers with stool samples to support the researchers’ helminth diagnostic product development and testing.
A Stanford University researcher will provide USF researchers with paper microscopes that will be used to test samples for helminth eggs. The USF researchers will share helminth samples with the Stanford researcher to use in the refinement of his paper microscope.
Dr. Demanou, Head of the Arbovirus and Hemorrhagic Fever Virus Laboratory at CPC, believed that dengue fever was underestimated in Cameroon, and was interested in determining the causes and prevalence of non-malarial fevers in the country. BVGH connected Dr. Demanou with Dr. Pinsky, who had developed an RT-PCR diagnostic capable of distinguishing between febrile illnesses. Dr. Demanou provided Dr. Pinsky with over 200 plasma and serum samples from Cameroonian febrile patients, which Dr. Pinsky screened using his multiplexed assay. The results indicated that a large proportion of malaria cases were missed by conventional testing, results that could potentially inform diagnostic development for febrile cases in Cameroon.
Dr. Oyibo was interested in determining which infectious agents (besides malaria) caused febrile illnesses in patients of Lagos state. BVGH connected Dr. Oyibo with Dr. Pinsky, who had developed a highly sensitive real-time RT-PCR-based molecular diagnostic platform that detected and distinguished nucleic acids from dengue virus and Plasmodium parasites. BVGH facilitated the placement of a graduate student from Dr. Oyibo’s laboratory in Dr. Pinsky’s laboratory at Stanford to advance her education and training. Using the multiplex assay to screen Dr. Oyibo’s plasma and whole blood samples from patients with malarial and non-malarial fevers, the student confirmed malaria diagnoses in a significant number of samples that had tested negative by microscopy.
Dr. Qvit was working in Dr. Mochly-Rosen’s lab to develop a topical peptide for the treatment of cutaneous leishmaniasis and sought advice on formulation and delivery methods. BVGH connected Dr. Qvit with AstraZeneca’s drug formulation experts, who provided guidance and insight as to ingredients and procedures necessary for optimum topical drug absorbance and efficacy. AstraZeneca made recommendations for measuring how much peptide is delivered to skin wounds, methods for increasing peptide solubility, and strategies for arriving at the best topical drug formulation and delivery method.
A Stanford University researcher provided a Caltech researcher with DNA and primers to test in a microfluidics instrument.