6 Oct - Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute visit


10 students from the Sixth Form recetly had the amazing opportunity to visit the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Cambridge. During the visit they had the chance to listen to many keynote scientists including Dr Ewan Birney, Director of the European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI) about the project that we are going to be part of: annotating the genome of the parasitic worm Trichuris Trichirura, which is more commonly referred to as the human whipworm. This worm infects millions of children in Asia, Africa and South America and is linked to malnutrition as well as physical and cognitive development problems. However, Trichuriasis (the disease caused by the parasite) is a ‘Neglected Tropical Disease’ which has received very little funding and consequently there are no vaccines and very few drugs available. Our task, alongside other schools in the UK, is to find and locate the genes in the entire genome of the human whipworm. We shall be annotating the genome with specialist software, which means that we shall have identified every gene, and be the very first to do so. The genes that we find could be future targets for upcoming drugs or vaccines. This project is of immense importance and could affect the lives of hundreds of millions of people globally, who suffer from a worm infection. It could contribute to the breaking of the poverty cycle which often exists where these worms infect people, usually due to poor sanitation and lack of access to clean water.

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