NIAID has a long-standing program of research devoted to better understanding, treating, and preventing neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). NIAID conducts its own basic and clinical studies and supports those of researchers based in the United States and in countries where NTDs are widespread.
For example, scientists in the Laboratory of Parasitic Diseases are working to uncover how NTD-causing pathogens interact with humans, animals, and the organisms that spread them from host to host. The lab conducts patient-centered research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Clinical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, as well as field studies in India, Latin America, and Africa.
Read more about the Laboratory of Parasitic Diseases.
NIAID support is helping scientists uncover new knowledge about NTD-causing agents that could ultimately be used to develop new prevention and treatment strategies. Through its Partnerships with Public-Private Partnerships program and Tropical Diseases Research Units, NIAID is actively supporting the discovery and development of drugs for NTDs. For example, researchers in the program are developing a low-cost treatment for visceral leishmaniasis and identifying new drugs for sleeping sickness and Chagas' disease.
In 2012, NIAID funded eight Tropical Research Medicine Centers (TMRCs) to support research on NTDs in endemic areas. The Centers are designed to facilitate research on the cause, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of NTDs and to create and sustain in-country research capacity.
The Vector Biology Research Program at NIAID supports research on several vectors that transmit agents of NTDs. Many of these projects have field components in disease-endemic areas of the world. For example, NIAID funds a project in French Polynesia that aims to reduce populations of Aedes polynesiensis, a mosquito species responsible for spreading filariasis in the region. Another group of investigators is studying the mosquito immune response against filarial worms with the hope of identifying targets for blocking development of the worm inside the mosquito.
NIAID research repositories, such as the Filariasis Research Reagent Repository Center and Schistosomiasis Resource Center, continue to foster the development of research programs against these diseases by providing researchers with parasite species, standard study protocols, and training. For example, through the Schistosomiasis Resource Center, investigators can obtain schistosome worm species at different life stages to study how they infect and multiply within snails and other hosts.
For more information, see The NIH-NIAID Schistosomiasis Resource Center, a review article published in the July 30, 2008, edition of Public Library of Science Neglected Tropical Diseases.