Study Reveals How Tissue-Dwelling Worm Evades Host Immunity
PhD graduate in Public Health, Dr Nyamongo W Onkoba, completed a study which shows how a tissue-dwelling worm which causes Trichinellosis can evade host immunity and establish its parasitism.
The study was titled: “Host Immune Responses to Plasmodium Berghei ANKA and Trichinella Zimbabwensis Infection in BALB/c Mice”.
‘My thesis determines the effect of a worm that dwells in animal and human tissues using host metabolism and immunity,’ said Onkoba.
The study further explored the effect of worm infection before co-infection with malaria in the same host. ‘It also looks at the effect of deworming on host immunity and the severity of malaria.’
He said the study results were exciting, ‘In the initial stages of infection, I established that the worm is able to influence host food and water intake and glucose metabolism resulting in weight loss. These changes are later compensated by the host through increased feeding as the worm migrates to settle in the skeletal muscles. During co-infection with malaria, the worm was able to ameliorate malaria immunity, improve disease outcomes and enhance survivorship by at least 45% compared to single malaria infection.’
The study also showed that deworming prior to malaria infection improved host immunity against malaria disease outcomes.
Onkoba said the results were of public health interest since they were relevant in the development of policy and guidelines for integrated management and control of worm infections in malaria endemic areas of sub-Saharan Africa.
He said he enjoyed his research and advised prospective students that a PhD study was like a roller-coaster ride. ‘Stop procrastinating, write every day and involve your supervisors in all that you are undertaking in regards to the study.’
He was supervised by Professor Moses Chimbari.
Onkoba is currently involved in mentoring students in the area of biomedical research while lecturing and offering consultancy services at the Institute of Primate Research in Kenya.
His future plans include enrolling for an MBA in strategic management.
A patriotic Kenyan, he is married to Zubeda, and they have a five-year old daughter, Zendai.
‘I am fascinated by classic cars and antique items because they communicate a story to me,’ he said.