MEmE: Multi-centre study on Echinococcus multilocularis and Echinococcus granulosus s.l. in Europe: development and harmonisation of diagnostic methods in the food chain
|Start:||1 January 2020|
|Key Words:||Echinococcus spp., cystic and alveolar echinococcosis, helminth parasites, molecular epidemiology, zoonotic helminths.|
|Contact:||Adriano Casulli (ISS)|
The Project #MEME
MEmE is a multicentre collaborative international project aiming to fill the research gaps highlighted by international agencies (EFSA, ECDC, WHO) for the detection and control of cystic and alveolar echinococosis (CE and AE, respectively).
MEmE, expanding the results of previous European projects, will focus on both the standardisation, harmonisation and validation of existing parasitological and molecular methods, and the development and comparative assessment of innovative molecular tools and biomarkers to detect Echinococcus multilocularis (Em) and Echinococcus granulosus sensu lato (Eg) in the food chain. These tasks will be conducted in line with OIE principles and methods of validation of diagnostic assays for infectious diseases. A biomarker discovery task will also focus on the proteomic analysis of exosomes in sheep plasma, to develop innovative tools for the detection of CE the natural intermediate host.
Production of epidemiological data on the presence of Em/Eg eggs in the food chain will focus on vegetables for human consumption as well as dogs’ faeces in selected endemic countries. Moreover, food source-targeted questionnaires will be developed and administered to a sample of patients with CE, in selected hospitals, including those registered in the European Register of CE (ERCE), and AE and matched controls, to advance our knowledge on food-related risk factors for human infection.
Long term capacity building and alignment of European research strategies at national and EU level is expected through the MEmE network, which includes inter alia the European Reference Laboratory for Parasites, WHO Collaborating Centres, OIE Collaborating Centres, National reference laboratories for parasites/Echinococcus and the HERACLES Extended Network. Organisation and delivery of parasitological and molecular Proficiency Testing Schemes on the validated techniques will be organised by the MEmE network, after organisation of specific training through short exchange visits for key personnel between network laboratories. Some of the techniques validated for detection of Em/Eg may also be translated to epidemiology and diagnosis of human infections, within a One Health approach.
Altogether, MEmE will provide a comprehensive set of relevant integrative activities (including development and validation of protocols, collection of biological material, capacity building, and epidemiological investigations). These will allow partner organisations to harmonise procedures, improve detection of Eg and Em, and define control strategies based on the occurrence of these pathogens in the food chain and the relative importance of their foodborne transmission.