After their successful meeting last week, the science team is now all set to start - and already facing the first challenge...
An important step for the development of our diagnostic tool is to gain access to samples of Taenia solium eggs. We need those tapeworm eggs in order to process the transcriptome, pick our target gene and develop the toe-hold switch. Luckily, Taenia solium isn't widespread in Europe - but this also means that, unfortunately, these samples aren't readily available in Germany, let alone Berlin, so in order to get samples to work on, we have been asking for outside help.
Over the past few months, members of our team have been reaching out to science faculties around the world, requesting access to these samples. Of those that responded, many said they either had none themselves or were unable to give any to us. The single positive response we received so far came from a Professor in India, who also mentioned the additional difficulties, bureaucratical and ethical, of getting said eggs out of India.
For good reason, the transport of infectious material across borders includes various hurdles, requiring approval from both the exporting and importing (Germany) countries. One solution would be to hire a professional biological sample courier who would not only transfer the sample but also handle the legal and ethical issues.
Besides sending emails, the team is also using direct contacts in Spain and Namibia which could allow for a faster acquisition of the eggs. Should any of this not succeed various other options are being explored. This is still ongoing, so keep your fingers crossed! We will keep you updated with any progress!