Keele Research Project Featured in the Weekend Guardian

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Posted on 25 November 2013
It is a classic honey trap. The prospect of sex entices the unwary to a rendezvous – only to find the lure is a false one and the victim is undone. As stories go, it is common enough, though the victims of the honey trap that has been designed as part of a special British experiment are far from harmless. They are female sand flies infected with the parasite that causes the deadly disease leishmaniasis. And the sex trap is a key part of a project aimed at halting the spread of the disease.

A major research project led by Professor Gordon Hamilton, Professor of Medical Entomology and Vector Control in the School of Life Sciences, was featured in last week's Guardian newspaper.

The article, entitled Honey traps set in the battle to beat killer disease leishmaniasis, describes Professor Hamilton's Brazil-based field trial of a new method for trapping sandflies.  These insects are vectors for the Leishmania parasite, which causes the neglected tropical disease leishmaniasis.  Infected people are afflicted by one of two forms of the disease: the more common cutaneous leishmaniasis, which causes horrific sores on their skin, and visceral leishmaniasis, which affects internal organs and can be fatal.  Worldwide, about 2 million people are affected every year.  Prof. Hamilton's research is based upon trapping the sandfly vectors using their sex pheromone as an attractant.  The full story can be found here.