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The Natural History Museum is an international leader in the study of the natural world. Our science describes the diversity of nature, promotes an understanding of its past, and supports the anticipation and management of the impact of human activity on the environment.

The Museum's repository provides free access to publications produced by more than 300 scientists working here. Researchers at the Museum study a diverse range of issues, including threats to Earth's biodiversity, the maintenance of delicate ecosystems, environmental pollution and disease. The accessible repository showcases this broad research output.

The repository was launched in 2016 with an initially modest number of journal publications in its database. It now includes book chapters and blogs from Museum scientists.

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  • Analytical and Clinical Assessment of a Portable, Isothermal Recombinase Polymerase Amplification (RPA) Assay for the Molecular Diagnosis of Urogenital Schistosomiasis

    Archer, John; Barksby, Rebecca; Pennance, T; Rostron, Penelope; Bakar, Faki; Knopp, Stefanie; Allan, F; Kabole, Fatma; Ali, Said M; Ame, Shaali M; et al. (MDPI AG, 2020-09-11)
    Accurate diagnosis of urogenital schistosomiasis is crucial for disease surveillance and control. Routine diagnostic methods, however, lack sensitivity when assessing patients with low levels of infection still able to maintain pathogen transmission. Therefore, there is a need for highly sensitive diagnostic tools that can be used at the point-of-care in endemic areas. Recombinase polymerase amplification (RPA) is a rapid and sensitive diagnostic tool that has been used to diagnose several pathogens at the point-of-care. Here, the analytical performance of a previously developed RPA assay (RT-ShDra1-RPA) targeting the Schistosoma haematobium Dra1 genomic region was assessed using commercially synthesised S. haematobium Dra1 copies and laboratory-prepared samples spiked with S. haematobium eggs. Clinical performance was also assessed by comparing diagnostic outcomes with that of a reference diagnostic standard, urine-egg microscopy. The RT-ShDra1-RPA was able to detect 1 × 101 copies of commercially synthesised Dra1 DNA as well as one S. haematobium egg within laboratory-spiked ddH2O samples. When compared with urine-egg microscopy, the overall sensitivity and specificity of the RT-ShDra1-RPA assay was 93.7% (±88.7–96.9) and 100% (±69.1–100), respectively. Positive and negative predictive values were 100% (±97.5–100) and 50% (±27.2–72.8), respectively. The RT-ShDra1-RPA therefore shows promise as a rapid and highly sensitive diagnostic tool able to diagnose urogenital schistosomiasis at the point-of-care.
  • Erratum to: Development of novel multiplex microsatellite polymerase chain reactions to enable high-throughput population genetic studies of Schistosoma haematobium

    Webster, BL; Rabone, M; Pennance, T; Emery, AM; Allan, F; Gouvras, A; Knopp, S; Garba, A; Hamidou, AA; Mohammed, KA; et al. (Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2015-10-09)
    Unfortunately, the original version of this article [1], contained a mistake. In Table 1, the primers for Sh6 and Sh9 were included incorrectly. Instead of GGGATGTATGCAGACTTG TTGTTTGGCTGCAGTAAC and GCTGAGCTTGAGATTG CTTCTGTCCCATCGATACC they should have been Sh6 Forward Primer GGTGGATTACGCAATAG, Sh6 Reverse Primer TTTAATCAACCGGGTGTC and Sh9 Forward Primer GGGATGTATGCAGACTTG, Sh9 Reverse Primer TTGTTTGGCTGCAGTAAC respectively. A corrected version of Table 1 is included below
  • Longitudinal survey on the distribution of Biomphalaria sudanica and B. choanomophala in Mwanza region, on the shores of Lake Victoria, Tanzania: implications for schistosomiasis transmission and control

    Gouvras, A; Allan, Fiona; Kinung’hi, Safari; Rabone, M; Emery, AM; Angelo, Teckla; Pennance, T; Webster, BL; Nagai, Honest; Rollinson, D (Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2017-06-28)
    Background: Schistosomiasis is hyper-endemic in the Lake Victoria basin; with intestinal schistosomiasis plaguing communities adjacent to the lake, where the intermediate host snails live. The two intermediate host species of Schistosoma mansoni in the Mwanza region are Biomphalaria sudanica, found on the banks of the lakes, and B. choanomphala, found in the lake itself. There are few longitudinal surveys documenting changing abundance and differential transmission patterns of these Biomphalaria snails across seasons and years. We undertook 15 field surveys at 26 sites over four years to determine the parameters that influence Biomphalaria abundance, presence of S. mansoni-shedding snails and impact of schistosomiasis treatment interventions on transmission potential in the Mwanza region. Results: Statistical analysis revealed seasonal difference in the abundance of B. sudanica with the highest number of snails found in the dry season (Kruskal-Wallis χ <sup>2</sup> = 37.231, df = 3, P < 0.0001). Water measurements were not associated with B. sudanica abundance; however, high levels of rainfall did have a negative effect on B. sudanica [coefficient effect -0.1405, 95% CI (-0.2666, -0.0144)] and B. choanomphala abundance [coefficient effect -0.4388, 95% CI (-0.8546, -0.0231)] potentially due to inundation of sites "diluting" the snails and influencing collection outcome. Biomphalaria sudanica snails were found at all sites whereas B. choanomphala were far more focal and only found in certain sites. Shedding Biomphalaria did not show any variation between dry and rainy seasons; however, a decrease in shedding snails was observed in year 4 of the study. Conclusions: Biomphalaria sudanica is uniformly present in the Mwanza region whereas B. choanomphala is far more focal. Seasonality plays a role for B. sudanica abundance, likely due to its habitat preference on the banks of the lake, but not for B. choanomphala. The decrease in shedding Biomphalaria abundance in Year 4 could be linked to ongoing schistosomiasis treatment efforts in the neighbouring human populations. The highest number of shedding Biomphalaria was observed at sites with high levels of human movement. Prioritising snail control at such sites could greatly reduce transmission in these high-risk areas.
  • Oxamniquine resistance alleles are widespread in Old World Schistosoma mansoni and predate drug deployment

    Chevalier, Frédéric D; Le Clec’h, Winka; McDew-White, Marina; Menon, Vinay; Guzman, Meghan A; Holloway, Stephen P; Cao, Xiaohang; Taylor, Alexander B; Kinung'hi, Safari; Gouvras, Anouk N; et al. (Public Library of Science (PLoS), 2019-10-25)
    Do mutations required for adaptation occur de novo, or are they segregating within populations as standing genetic variation? This question is key to understanding adaptive change in nature, and has important practical consequences for the evolution of drug resistance. We provide evidence that alleles conferring resistance to oxamniquine (OXA), an antischistosomal drug, are widespread in natural parasite populations under minimal drug pressure and predate OXA deployment. OXA has been used since the 1970s to treat Schistosoma mansoni infections in the New World where S. mansoni established during the slave trade. Recessive loss-of-function mutations within a parasite sulfotransferase (SmSULT-OR) underlie resistance, and several verified resistance mutations, including a deletion (p.E142del), have been identified in the New World. Here we investigate sequence variation in SmSULT-OR in S. mansoni from the Old World, where OXA has seen minimal usage. We sequenced exomes of 204 S. mansoni parasites from West Africa, East Africa and the Middle East, and scored variants in SmSULT-OR and flanking regions. We identified 39 non-synonymous SNPs, 4 deletions, 1 duplication and 1 premature stop codon in the SmSULT-OR coding sequence, including one confirmed resistance deletion (p.E142del). We expressed recombinant proteins and used an in vitro OXA activation assay to functionally validate the OXA-resistance phenotype for four predicted OXA-resistance mutations. Three aspects of the data are of particular interest: (i) segregating OXA-resistance alleles are widespread in Old World populations (4.29-14.91% frequency), despite minimal OXA usage, (ii) two OXA-resistance mutations (p.W120R, p.N171IfsX28) are particularly common (>5%) in East African and Middle-Eastern populations, (iii) the p.E142del allele has identical flanking SNPs in both West Africa and Puerto Rico, suggesting that parasites bearing this allele colonized the New World during the slave trade and therefore predate OXA deployment. We conclude that standing variation for OXA resistance is widespread in S. mansoni.
  • The detection of Schistosoma bovis in livestock on Pemba Island, Zanzibar: A preliminary study

    Pennance, T; Ame, Shaali M; Amour, Amour Khamis; Suleiman, Khamis Rashid; Cable, Jo; Webster, BL (Elsevier BV, 2021-10-15)
    Schistosoma bovis is a parasitic trematode of ungulates transmitted by freshwater snails in Sub-Saharan Africa causing bovine intestinal schistosomiasis that leads to chronic morbidity and significant agricultural economic losses. The recently reported occurrence of Bulinus globosus infected with S. bovis for the first time on Pemba Island (Zanzibar, United Republic of Tanzania) is a cause of concern for livestock/wildlife health and complicates the surveillance of Schistosoma haematobium. To confirm that local cattle are infected with S. bovis, fresh faecal samples were collected from six adult cows surrounding two schistosomiasis transmission sites in Kinyasini, Pemba Island. Schistosome eggs were concentrated, egg hatching stimulated and miracidia were individually captured and identified by analysis of the partial mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase subunit 1 (cox1) and the partial nuclear internal transcribed spacer region (ITS1+5.8S+ITS2). Two S. bovis miracidia were collected from one faecal sample with two cox1 haplotypes, one matching cox1 data obtained from S. bovis cercariae, collected previously at the same site in Pemba, the other matching S. bovis cox1 data originating from coastal Tanzania. The findings conclude that S. bovis transmission has been established on Pemba Island and is likely to have been imported through livestock trade with East Africa. Increasing the sensitivity of non-invasive diagnostics for bovine schistosomiasis, together with wider sampling, will enable a better assessment on the epidemiology of S. bovis on Pemba Island.

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