Posts Tagged ‘University of Lancaster’

Brazilian Sandflies and Hacked Webcams

Monday, July 30th, 2012

DIY feeder with mad invetor and an enthusiastic assistantOn the 29th July, the Manchester DIYBio group hosted a double bill of scientific wonders featuring Brazilian sandflies (that’s Phlebotominae to you and me ) and DIY microscopes.

The first session was led by Dr. Rod Dillon from the the University of Lancaster who, along with his team, gave us some background information on the Brazilian sandfly and, most importantly, the diseases it spreads. Sandflies infected by the protozoan Leishmania parasite spread a disease called Leishmaniasis, a disease with the next worst impact on humans after malaria. This disease can cause disfiguring afflictions as well as lethal complications within the spleen which can be seen as the victims’ abdomens swell up, leading to their eventual death. Scientists are still working on a vaccine, so research into the parasite’s genome is crucial. In fact, genome based screening techniques are already used to screen potential vaccines.

We were introduced to several techniques commonly used in the lab – all with a suitably DIY twist. For example, instead of using a commercial feeder filled with blood kept at a constant temperature, Dr. Dillon gave a demonstration with a cocktail jigger filled with warm sugar solution (and some added red dye for artistic effect), some pieces of chicken skin and a makeshift clamp made out of bamboo and elastic bands. (more…)