ILRI’s Tick Unit has been selected as Africa’s first outpost for the Tick Cell Biobank. The parent Tick Cell Biobank at the Institute of Infection and Global Health, University of Liverpool, houses a collection of approximately 55 cell lines derived from argasid and ixodid ticks, which are of both veterinary and medical importance. Funded by the UK Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) Global Challenges Research Fund, the Biobank Outpost project will facilitate access of the tick cell lines by researchers in low- and middle- income countries in Africa, South East Asia and South America. The countries selected for the Outposts include Kenya, Malaysia and Brazil.
Tremendous research progress has been made over the last ten years to better control the deadly African disease of cattle known as East Coast fever. This disease is caused by a single-celled organism, Theileria parva, which is carried by some tick species. Cattle become infected when a tick carrying the parasite takes a blood-meal from the animal over several days.