Support is requested for a Keystone Symposia conference entitled Helminths: New Insights from Immunity to Global Health, organized by Drs. De' Broski Herbert, P'ng Loke, Nicola L. Harris and Frank Brombacher. The conference will be held in Cape Town, South Africa from December 8-12, 2019. Parasitic worms, or helminths, infect roughly one in five people on the planet and cause pathology in hundreds of millions. Given the global impact on human health and welfare, there is a great need to develop novel therapies and/or vaccines that target helminths. In addition, the unique nature of how these parasites interact with their hosts has brought tremendous insight into the mammalian immune system. Experimental studies of helminth infection have led to the identification of new cell types involved in type 2 immunity, including innate lymphoid cells, tuft cells, and new roles for neurons, in addition to revealing novel pathways of tissue repair and immune-modulation. The interactions of helminths with the microbiome has also come to light in recent years. This conference will highlight some of the most impactful advances in the fields of helminth genomics, helminth biology, vaccine design and host protective immunity, in addition to new discoveries highlighting the ability of these organisms to modulate the immune system, human disease and the microbiome.
Given the global impact of helminths on human health and welfare, there is a great need to develop novel therapies and/or vaccines that target helminths. Over one billion people are infected with parasitic helminths, which although rarely lethal, typically form chronic infections leading to malnutrition, anemia and delayed development, resulting in a loss of disability adjusted life years (DALYs) that is greater than that estimated for malaria and approaching that attributed to tuberculosis. The opportunity for cross-disciplinary unification as provided by this meeting is very rare and is critically needed for this field that requires new approaches to building successful drugs and/or vaccines for human and veterinary use.