Parasitic Biology and Immunology (BIPAR) UMR

Head of Unit: Sara Moutailler

The Parasitic Biology and Immunology (BIPAR) Joint Research Unit (UMR), created in 1998, brings together employees from ANSES, INRAE and the Alfort National Veterinary School. Its activities focus on the study of host-pathogen interactions. The unit is divided into two teams: Paralim, which specialises in foodborne parasites, and MiTick, which focuses on ticks and the pathogens they transmit

Reference activities

The unit has two national reference laboratory (NRL) mandates, for foodborne parasites except for Echinococcus, and besnoitiosis.

It is also a World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH) Collaborating Centre for foodborne parasites.

Surveillance activities

Within the unit, the Paralim team carries out surveillance activities under the NRL and WOAH Collaborating Centre mandates on foodborne zoonotic parasites. These include the detection, control and surveillance of studied or emerging parasitic diseases. The unit, as an NRL, also helps coordinate networks of about 60 regional laboratories.

Research activities

The BIPAR UMR's activities focus on the study of host-pathogen interactions, with its models being vectors (ticks, mosquitoes) and the pathogens (bacteria, parasites and viruses) they transmit. It also studies foodborne zoonotic parasites. It develops the following:

  • fundamental and applied research to gain a better understanding of these interactions (at the molecular, cellular, tissue/salivary gland level or in the food matrix, host or ecosystem, including vertebrate and invertebrate host microbiota) and of the circulation of these pathogens;
  • innovative control strategies against ticks, arthropod-borne pathogens and foodborne zoonotic parasites (improved detection and surveillance, "universal" vaccine strategies, "green" alternatives to antiparasitic treatments and acaricides, etc.).             

To find out more visit the UMR's website

Research projects (2016-2022)

H2020 contracts, as a partner

A global alliance for Zika virus control and prevention

Funding: European Commission H2020

ZIKAlliance was a multinational and multidisciplinary research consortium comprising 54 partners worldwide and coordinated by Inserm, the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research. The project investigated clinical, fundamental, environmental and social aspects of Zika virus (ZIKV) infection. In particular, ZIKAlliance focused on the impact of ZIKV infection during pregnancy and the natural history of ZIKV in humans and their environment. In collaboration with two other EC-funded consortia (ZikaPLAN and ZIKAction), ZIKAlliance also worked on the development of a preparedness platform in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Find out more about the project

Epidemiological models for control of arboviral disease for Europe

Funding: European Commission ERANET

ARBONET sought to develop epidemiological models for the control of arboviruses in Europe (West Nile virus, Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever virus and Rift Valley fever virus). The unit's team was involved in assessing the vector competence of different vector cell lines (ticks and mosquitoes) for flavivirus strains (WNV), and in the production of interactomics data for WNV and tick/mosquito cell combinations. The project was coordinated by the Karolinska Institute in Sweden.

Other European contracts, as a leader

Development of an aptamer-based test for Trichinella detection             

Funding: One Health European Joint Programme (EJP) and ANSES

AptaTrich is a research consortium with two European partners and one Canadian partner.

Its goal is to develop an innovative and highly specific approach to detect animals (or humans) infected with Trichinella, based on aptamers directed against whole Trichinella larvae and/or larval molecules (proteins, carbohydrates, etc.). This will result in:

  • the implementation of serological surveillance programmes, in order to reduce the costs of current Trichinella testing programmes while ensuring the removal of infected animals from the food chain;
  • early therapy in humans, preventing the parasite from becoming established in the muscles.

Study of the tropism and persistence of Toxoplasma gondii: from pork carcass to sausage and dry ham, a quantitative microbiological risk assessment 

Funding:  One Health EJP

The aim of the project is to study the tropism and persistence of the T. gondii parasite in experimentally infected pigs. Dry sausages and hams will be produced, and used to investigate the parasite and determine the risk to consumers.

Other European contracts, as a partner

Parasite detection, isolation and evaluation.

Funding: One Health EJP

PARADISE is a multinational and multidisciplinary research consortium made up of 22 European partners. The project aims to provide innovative typing schemes and detection strategies that can be applied to food matrices for Cryptosporidium and Giardia. Using NGS (genomic and metagenomic) technologies, the project will generate much-needed data that will enrich our understanding of the biology of these organisms, and provide the basis on which improved strain-typing schemes will be developed and rigorously tested. In parallel, strategies (nanobodies, aptamers, use of hybridisation probes) to enrich the amount of target pathogens and/or nucleic acids in different matrices will also be developed and tested. PARADISE will engage in parallel studies at different research institutes across Europe to validate the newly developed methods, testing their applicability across the spectrum of relevant matrices

Toxoplasma gondii sources quantified

Funding: One Health EJP

The TOXOSOURCES project is investigating the relative contributions of the different sources of T. gondii infection. It does this by using several multidisciplinary approaches and novel and improved methods to yield the most robust estimates possible, to inform risk management and policy makers.

Development of isothermal amplification methods for diagnosis of arthropod-borne diseases of livestock

Funding: CoVetLab

The project aimed to develop a loop-mediated isothermal amplification method (RT-LAMP) to diagnose arthropod-borne viruses that cause disease in livestock herds. The project was coordinated by the Animal & Plant Health Agency (UK).

Metagenomic Array Detection of emerging Virus in European Union.

Funding: One Health EJP

Development of a high-throughput tool for detecting emerging viruses in Europe, based on DNA/RNA microarrays. The project was coordinated by the Statens Serum Institut (Denmark).

A European Network for Foodborne Parasites.

Funding: Europe, COST (European Cooperation in Science and Technology)

The main objective of EURO-FBP was to reduce the impact on human health of foodborne pests (FBPs), by establishing a risk-based control programme for FBPs containing robust and appropriate protective strategies. EURO-FBP used an interdisciplinary, one health perspective to assimilate information, coordinate research and harmonise diagnostics, surveillance, analytical methods, potential interventions and mapping of global trends in FBPs.

European Network on Taeniosis/Cysticercosis

Funding: Europe, COST

The objective was to build a strong and extensive multidisciplinary scientific network to induce sustainable collaborations with the aim of advancing knowledge and understanding of complex zoonoses such as taeniosis (caused by tapeworms) and cysticercosis. Intra-European collaboration is essential to stop their development and spread within the European Union.

National contracts, as a leader

Cholinergic receptor-mediated activities of peptidergic neurons innervating salivary glands of the tick Ixodes ricinus.

Funding: ANR

Study of cholinergic receptors and salivary glands of Ixodes ricinus ticks.

Funding: IBEID Laboratory of Excellence, ANSES, Alfort National Veterinary School

The project aims to develop models of co-infections in ticks and mice, to identify key bacteria in the tick microbiome, and to identify G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) in ticks. The aim is to develop anti-tick microbiota and GPCR vaccines to combat tick-borne pathogens.

One Health approach to identify the threat posed by tick-borne pathogens responsible for unexplained infectious syndromes in humans and animals.

Funding: French National Research Agency (ANR)

One Health approach to identify tick-borne pathogens responsible for unexplained syndromes in humans and domestic animals. The project involved doctors, researchers, veterinarians and epidemiologists.

High-throughput screening of arboviruses in mosquitoes and ticks.

Funding: ANSES-Institut Pasteur

Development of a high-throughput tool for the detection of tick- and mosquito-borne viruses.

National contracts, as a partner

Study of the risk associated with the presence of ticks in private gardens in urban and suburban areas.

Funding: National Research Programme for Environmental and Occupational Health

Hybrid swarm, the role of hybridisation in the invasive capacity, epidemiology and diagnosis of schistosomiasis

Funding:  ANR

The project is studying hybrid populations of schistosomes, and the role of hybridisation in the invasiveness, epidemiology and diagnosis of schistosomiasis

Citizen sciences for better understanding and prevention of tick-borne diseases

Funding: Fondation de France, Grand Est Region, ERDF, Île-de-France Region

This project used citizen science to better understand tick-borne pathogens. It developed an application called Signalement Tiques, and detected the pathogens present in biting ticks collected from humans and pets through the use of this application.

Contracts funded by charities and foundations, as a partner

Funding: Armenian National Science and Education Fund Grant (ANSEFG)

Contracts with local and regional authorities, as a partner

Parasites in fishery products: study of their distribution, zoonotic potential and consumers' perception 

Funding: Hauts-de-France region – STIMulE call for projects

The project aims to acquire data on potentially zoonotic parasites in fishery products, focusing on two aspects: firstly, consumers' perception of the risk associated with these parasites and secondly, study of the distribution and assessment of the zoonotic nature of little-known parasites.

Collaborative postdoctoral project grant on "Control of Giardia using probiotics: determination of the antiparasitic mechanism"

Funding: DIM1Health field of major interest