The Battle Continues: Eradicating Tropical Infectious Diseases with Nils Pilotte


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Oct 14 2020 46 mins   7

Early in his studies, Nils Pilotte realized he wanted to pursue research with direct human applications and neglected tropical diseases fit that bill. This podcast explores this sorely-needed research and ways scientists like Nils Pilotte are making a difference.

Listen and learn

  • How soil-transmitted helminths steal nutrition from their human host,
  • How Lymphatic filariases position themselves to block the lymphatic system, causing damaging elephantiasis, and
  • What exciting molecular diagnostic techniques are in the works, like testing mosquito feces rather than mosquitos themselves.

Nils Pilotte is a postdoctoral researcher with the Williams' Lab at Smith College. He works primarily in diagnostic methods in parasitology and focuses on filarial worms and soil-transmitted helminths diagnosis in particular. These worms cause devastating health issues in underserved communities and he works not only to eradicate infestations now but also prevent future resurgences.

He gives the podcast audience a solid background on how both soil-transmitted helminths and filarial worms, which are transmitted by insect vectors, progress through life cycles via complex host relationships. Filarial worms, for example, must utilize two animal hosts to realize their adult reproduction stage. He treats listeners with his enthusiasm for studying this coevolution, speculating on the amazing science behind their adaptations.

But this coevolution is more than just interesting. Researching the signaling between pathogen and host is key to developing methods for diagnosis of parasitic infections. "Cross-talk" is a phrase scientists use for this exchange. Because parasites developed clever ways to disguise themselves, understanding this cross-talk is at the forefront of understanding pathogenicity. Dr. Pilotte addresses various ways they are looking at this signaling that might aid better diagnostics.

He also addresses ways he and others work to make diagnostics less expensive and more accessible. For example, he's working on a method to increase their testing of mosquito infection by testing their excreta, or feces, for the presence of pathogen material. It's much easier and simpler to collect the mosquito feces than the mosquitoes themselves. Listen in for more smart advances scientists are using to make the world healthier.

For more about Nils Pilotte, see his researchgate page or search for him in Google scholar.

Available on Apple Podcasts: apple.co/2Os0myK