BBSRC Awards Grant for Wild House Mouse Study
Eco-immunology and Context-specific Immunology Branch Lead Professor Kathryn Else along with Dr Rowan Bancroft at the University of Manchester and co-applicants Professor Amy Pedersen and Dr Iris Mair at the University of Edinburgh have been funded by the BBSRC to carry out a three-year project working with a wild house mouse population on the Isle of May off the coast of Scotland to conduct groundbreaking research to understand the mechanisms behind dietary changes and how they impact the immune system and parasitic clearance in a real-world context.
Parasitic worms are extraordinarily common infections of humans, livestock and wildlife. They cause ill health, a reduced ability to put on weight, reduced productivity, and economic loss. Drugs exist to tackle parasite infections but as parasites develop drug resistance, these sorts of control methods lose effectiveness. So discovering new ways to limit infections is important.
The study will provide an improved diet to one group of mice and compare their anti-parasite immune response and the collection of bacteria living in their guts to those of mice that do not receive an improved diet. To understand the importance of the microbiome versus the immune system mice will be treated with an antibody, which will block the immune-based anti-parasite defence. This will allow researchers to tease apart whether the diet-driven changes in parasite clearance are acting via the immune system.
“Overall, this project will disentangle the ways in which an improved diet supports health and protects against parasitic infection.
It will do so by using a novel, interdisciplinary study design bridging between controlled laboratory mouse studies and investigations in wild mouse populations.
This allows both detailed and mechanistic investigation as well as taking into account the real-world environment in which an individual’s immune system operates.”
Professor Kathryn Else
To learn more about our Eco-immunology and Context-specific Immunology branch visit the branch webpage and watch the video below with Dr Iris Mair to learn more about our wild house mouse research conducted on the Isle of May.