Research grant from African Research Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases awarded to PIIVeC fellow Koala Lassane

19 Nov 2020

PIIVeC fellow Koala Lassane has been awarded a competitive research grant worth USD 25,000 for his project titled "Towards the development of efficient traps for onchocerciasis xenosurveillance in Burkina Faso." This project will allow Koala to extend the scope of his current research through PIIVeC.

The WHO and endemic countries plan to eliminate river blindness by 2025 using mass drug administration (MDA) with ivermectin. Despite decades of research on blackflies, the major vectors of onchocerciasis in Africa, there is no standard trap able to efficiently collect these insects either for surveillance or vector control. The human landing collection (HLC) remains the standard method for blackfly sampling, despite the ethical issues in relation with exposing people to the bites of the flies and the disease.

Through the project, the main question that Koala wants to address is "Could the development of a standard and effective trap for blackflies support the decision to stop MDA for onchocerciasis?" The main objective is to assess the potential of a new trap, developed as part of his PIIVeC fellowship, to replace the HLC. This trap could facilitate monitoring of the disease not only in the areas where transmission is still active but also to prevent a recrudescence in areas where transmission has been interrupted by MDA.

See the press release from the NTD support center here.