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At the University of Glasgow, Professor Richard McCulloch studies the biology of genomes, but unlike most other researchers, the human cell is not the subject of his research. Instead, he’s looking at parasite cells that cause diseases in humans and trying to develop a better understanding of how their genetic material is protected from harm in the human body and transmitted in the process of cell division. He’s focused on two specific parasites—one that causes a disease known as “sleeping sickness,” and another that causes a number of diseases that have widespread distributions.

Dr. McCulloch explains that while both parasites are transmitted to hosts in the same way (via flies), they have very different mechanisms of action once in the host’s body. This is allowing him and his team of researchers to make useful comparisons between these parasites in the hopes of revealing more information about their genome, behavior, and protective mechanisms against the human immune system.

Among a number of interesting topics, Dr. McCulloch discusses the possibility of making the vehicles of parasites resistant to parasites, some of the running hypotheses of how parasites avoid attack by the human immune system, a parasite’s capacity to create a limitless number of variant surface glycoproteins that coat cells and function as protection against antibodies, and new research on the replication and dissemination of parasites in the host.

Tune in for all the details, and check out https://www.gla.ac.uk/researchinstitutes/iii/staff/richardmcculloch/#/researchinterests to learn more.

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