Closing the gap between sleeping sickness patients and "omics" studies of the parasite

  • Deborggraeve, Stijn (Promotor)
  • Vermeesch, Joris (Copromotor)
  • Büscher, Philippe (Copromotor)
  • Berriman, Matthew (Researcher)
  • MacLeod, Annette (Researcher)
  • Matovu, Enock (Researcher)
  • Muyembe, Jean-Jacques (Researcher)
  • Desager, Sabine (Administrator)

    Project Details


    We aim to develop novel approaches that allow direct whole genome and transcriptome sequencing of Trypanosoma parasites in the blood of sleeping sickness patients. The developed technologies will be used to study the parasite's genome and transcriptome profiles in relation to the clinical phenotype of sleeping sickness patients.The latest sequencing technologies allow high-throughput and cost-effective whole genome and transcriptome comparative analysis in only a few days. However, the main bottleneck in sequencing scarce blood parasites such as Trypanosoma brucei (sleeping sickness) is the requirement for in vitro or in vivo parasite propagation prior to sequencing. Technologie to sequence T.brucei parasites directly in clinical specimens from patients would revolutionize sleeping sickness research as for the first time large-scale comparative studies without culture-induced biases would now be possible. In this project we aim to close the gap between sleeping sickness patients and "omics" research by novel approaches for direct sequencing of T. brucei parasites in the blood and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of patients. In a multidisciplinary experimental phase, new technologies for rapid parasite purification from blood and CSF and whole parasite genome/transcriptome amplification prior to high-throughout sequencing will be developed. The proof-of-concept will be delivered by studying the parasite genome and transcriptome profiles in relation to the clinical phenotype of 50 sleeping sickness patients. This will be the first study that investigates the parasite's genome and transcriptome directly in patients generating a unique data set for understanding the parasite's biology and virulence.
    Effective start/end date1/01/1331/12/15


    • Research Fund - Flanders: €40,000.00