Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Blastocystis under One Health - EU economic support for a COST proposal

Goodness - time flies! We are busy prepping for the ICOPA2022 - please remember early bird registration deadline is  1 June, 2022! Go here for more information.

Meanwhile, I'm thrilled to be able to announce that The European Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST) has decided to support our project "Blastocystis under One Health", led by Dr Anastasios Tsaousis (Tasos)! There will be economic support to cover four years of networking and teaching activities across Europe - everything with the aim to strengthen research into Blastocystis and its role in health and disease. Here is a summary of the project: 

Blastocystis colonizes at least one billion people making it the most prevalent intestinal microbial eukaryote.Emerging data indicates higher prevalence in animals. A high proportion of carriers are asymptomatic. Despite numerous studies, the pathogenicity of Blastocystis remains controversial. Currently, at least 26 genetic subtypes (STs) exist. Of these, ST1-ST9 and ST12 have been found in humans, while the rest have been
isolated only from non-human hosts. Information on prevalence, geographic distribution and host specificity of STs is incomplete. Significant gaps also exist on the environmental presence of Blastocystis. Collectively, this paucity of data blurs the Blastocystis landscape considerably. The specific objectives of this framework are to: (1) Support advancement of Blastocystis research by bringing together professionals from various disciplines and countries; (2) Foster information sharing on current methodologies, especially in the areas of subtyping, host-Blastocystis-microbiome interactions and Blastocystis-omics; (3) Promote capacity building via a transdisciplinary network of international collaboration; (4) Open avenues of communication with veterinarians, physicians and the general public. By the end of this initiative, participants will be able to: (i) Apply state-of-the-art tools for molecular identification of Blastocystis; (ii) Harmonise methodologies for subtyping
Blastocystis and identifying its role within the gut; (iii) View Blastocystis under One Health approach; (iv) Generate novel hypotheses to test role of Blastocystis in the gut ecosystem, health and disease.

Scientists from a great number of countries will participate, including the COST countries Belgium, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain, Turkey, and United Kingdom. International partner countries include Canada, Colombia, Japan, Peru, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Thailand, and the United States.

Our project received a score of 46/50. 

Apart from Tasos, who should receive the highest possible accolade for this achievement, a number of people made significant contributions to the proposal, including Eleni Gentekaki, Mark van der Giezen, Graham Clark, and myself. 


 

This is a massive advancement in Blastocystis research, and will take the research into and knowledge about this peculiar organism to a completely different level. I expect a lot from the next few years' work with Blastocystis, and personally, I'm very interested in exploring how we can "use" Blastocystis as an indicator organism and - potentially - a manipulator of gut bacterial communities!

Stay tuned for more information! And I'll see some of you at ICOPA2022 in August!


Thursday, February 3, 2022

Abstract deadline for ICOPA2022 - ICOPAnhagen!

 Hola everyone!


Did you upload your suggestion(s) for ICOPA2022 symposia? If yes - good! If not - don't worry; you still have lots of opportunity to share your parasitology research.

Deadline for regular abstract submission is 8 March, 2022. 

Go here to submit.

For more information on ICOPA2022 - go here


Cheers!


Thursday, January 20, 2022

ICOPA2022 Deadline approaching: You've got one more week to submit your Symposium Proposals!

Hello everyone,

In the LOC and SC we are working hard to develop the ICOPA2022 conference YOU would like to attend.

But we need input from you as well! Please note that the deadline for submission of Symposium proposals is 31 January, 2022. 

Deadline for abstracts is 8 March, 2022. You can browse the list of Abstract topics here.

So, please go ahead an submit!


Friday, December 10, 2021

ICOPA2022: Abstract submission is open!

Hello everyone!

In case you didn't see this already, abstracts and proposals for symposia can now be submitted to the ICOPA2022 website!

Deadline for abstracts: 8 March.

Deadline for symposia: 31 January.


Please also make sure to get more updates on social media - we're on FB, Twitter, and IG.

Search terms: #ICOPA2022 and #icopanhagen

 

Thursday, July 1, 2021

Special Issue on Blastocystis in Frontiers

In the wake of the 3rd Int'l Blastocystis Conference (2-4 June, 2021), we're pleased that Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology (one of the sponsors of the conference) has launched a specific research topic:

"Putting Blastocystis on the Spot: Examining the Biology, Ecology and Epidemiology of a Controversial Gut Microbe"

Topic editors include Tasos, Eleni, Kevin, Funda, and myself. I personally hope to see and review some very interesting studies, and - in line with my thoughts in the previous blog post - I particularly hope  to see data on Blastocystis in en ecological context. 

Please go here for more information.

 

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Personal Post-Conference Thoughts on Future Blastocystis Research

I'm still on a high after the 3rd Int'l Blastocystis Conference! The Scientific Committee is in the process of putting together a TrendsTalk paper for Trends in Parasitology to provide a brief summary of the different topics presented at the conference, including some important updates.

I personally think Blastocystis research has come a long way since I entered the field back in 2004, but I would like to call for more cross-disciplinary approaches to studying the parasite.

In particular, we need to stimulate a research interest in bioinformaticians, vets, food microbiologists, and gastroenterologists.

The bioinformatics people should help us analyze NGS data (shotgun, metabarcoding) and provide some robust and  guidelines for cut-offs for e.g. Blastocystis positivity and negativity in NGS data.

Vets should be interested in studying the differences in Blastocystis colonization across different animal populations and find out what drives colonization and the impact is has on the host and host gut microbiota. Studying the relationships of these microbes in animals can help us understand these relationships in humans. Vets should help us find out why Blastocystis is so common in ruminants and so rare in carnivores.

To this end, food microbiologists should take an interest to study associations and interactions between Blastocystis, the gut microbiota and the host. Including metabolomics. Diet as a driver of colonization should be investigated.

Finally, gastroenterologists should take an interest in Blastocystis to identify its positive or negative association to various GI diseases (IBS, IBD, microscopic colitis, coeliac disease, diverticulosis, colon cancer, etc, etc.)

We should take advantage of the fact that Blastocystis is one of the few intestinal parasites that can easily be cultured, which means that cells can be used for in vivo and in vitro experiments. Protocols should be developed for encystment, and cyst production on a larger scale should be enabled, since cysts can be used for oral administration. 

The current shift in paradigm that reflects the recognition of Blastocystis as marker of intestinal eubiosis could be supported and expanded by increasing the involvement of these types of professions.

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Wrap-up of 3rd International Blastocystis Conference

The 3rd International Blastocystis Conference took place Wednesday-Friday last week.

Organising committee:

  • Anastasios (Tasos) Tsaousis 
  • Eleni Gentekaki
  • Chr. Rune Stensvold
  • Funda Dogruman-Al

 Scientific committee:

  • Kevin S W Tan
  • Γ–zgΓΌr Kurt
  • Eleni Gentekaki 
  • Chr. Rune Stensvold
  • Funda Dogruman-Al
  • Anastasios (Tasos) Tsaousis

 Sponsors included 

  • Microbiology Society
  • Biology - MDPI
  • PCR Biosystems

The conference was facilitated by Top Kinisis

The conference in numbers:

  •  3-day conference
  • 73 attendees
  • 29 countries represented
  • 66 abstracts
  • 38 oral presentations
  • 28 poster presentations
  • 265 tweets using #Blastocystis21 as hashtag
  • 3 awards

Awards:

Blastocystis Quiz Award: Mark van der Giezen (@MitoRem)

Poster Award: Adriana Marcela Higuera Gelvez (Draft genomes of Blastocystis isolates from human samples in BogotΓ‘, Colombia)

Oral Presentation:

  • Winner: Jamie Newton (Investigating the metabolic fluctuations of the human gut during Blastocystis infection)
  • 1st runner-up: Lei Deng (Experimental colonization with Blastocystis ST4 is associated with protective immune response and modulation of gut microbiome in a DSS-induced colitis mouse model)
  • 2nd runner-up: Zuzana Lhotska and Vincent Billy (back-to-back presentations: Blastocystis colonization alters host immune response and gut microbiome, part a and b, respectively)

A special issue 'Putting Blastocystis on the Spot: Examining the Biology, Ecology and Epidemiology of a controversial gut microbe' has been launched in Frontiers. This Research Topic is linked to the conference. You can go here for more information.

The 4th International Blastocystis Conference is planned to take place in Chania, Crete, Greece in 2024.

Last, but not least a couple of screen capture impressions from the conference:



I will be back shortly with more updates from the conference.


R


Friday, May 28, 2021

Friday, May 7, 2021

Huge international support for the 3rd International Blastocystis Conference

 

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

The 3rd Blastocystis Conference will be AWESOME!

 Hi everyone,

We're currently going through the abstracts submitted for the upcoming Blastocystis conference, which will be held exclusively online.

The scientific quality of the abstracts is very high, and participants in this year's conference are in for a veritable treat! 

Expect important and potentially game-changing updates on host-pathogen interactions, cell biology and evolution, epidemiology, intestinal ecology, diagnosis and molecular characterisation.

Use this opportunity to obtain answers to all of your Blastocystis questions.

We are very much overwhelmed about the interest for this event and the support.


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