Prifysgol Aberystwyth University

Protecting people, animals and economies from harmful parasitic worms

Pioneering research into diseases caused by parasitic flatworms that is leading to the identification of new drugs, innovative detection methodologies and sustainable health practices, improving the quality of human and animal health, and safeguarding the global food supply.

Parasitic worms cause some of the most disfiguring, debilitating and chronic infectious diseases of human and animal populations across the globe. They kill thousands of people and animals annually as well as lead to the suffering of millions more and contribute to the development of chronic disorders such as cancer. In terms of food and crop security, parasitic worms also threaten our ability to feed the planet’s ever-growing population, creating substantial economic losses in every food-producing nation on the planet.

In a neglected field of research, scientists at Aberystwyth University have devoted themselves to the study of a particular group of parasitic worms – the flatworm species responsible for causing diseases such as Schistosomiasis in people and Fasciolosis in livestock. By merging the expertise of both agricultural and biological parasitologists, Aberystwyth University has built an international reputation for its work combatting the devastating impact of parasitic flatworms on people, animals and economies.

Shaped by a century of underpinning research, innovation and development, Aberystwyth scientists have advanced global understandings of fundamental flatworm biology. They have analysed the complex lifecycles and host interactions of these parasites to an unprecedented level of detail so that vulnerabilities can be identified and targeted by new vaccines or drugs. They have also pioneered the development of innovative methodologies to influence and advance new vaccine, diagnostic and drug discovery pipelines as well as created screening, detection and medical treatment processes to save lives and safeguard food production. Crucially, Aberystwyth scientists widely share the findings of their transformational work with academic and industry partners for the improvement of global health and the benefit of society. Their unique expertise plays a pivotal role in ongoing international efforts to control parasitic flatworm diseases and mitigate their devastating consequences on human and animal health as well as food production globally.