A researcher identifies the parasites responsible for Chagas and Leishmaniasis epidemics

Jun 04, 2007

Parasites must be correctly identified before the correct treatment is introduced. To do so, we need a fast and cheap technique that enables us to obtain the necessary results in our studies, especially in under developed countries where there are no proper infrastructures.

The Department of Parasitology of University of Granada (Spain), and the researcher Isabel Rodríguez González have submitted a thesis that analyses for the first time new isolated parasites: Leishmania and Trypanosoma in Peru, Mexico and Spain. These parasites are responsible for diseases such as Chagas – which affects at least 18 million people in South America – and Leishmaniasis – which affects around 12 million people throughout the world. The World Health Organization has recognised these diseases as a public health problem.

This study has compared these parasites with reference strains, by using biochemical and molecular techniques. Thanks to these techniques, the researcher was able to identify which groups these isolated parasites belong to.

No medical treatment

The researcher pointed out: “There is no specific treatment yet. Medicines that are used may have serious consequences. Their efficiency varies, because they are long and expensive treatments often associated with toxic effects.” Some species of these parasites need no treatment, others do.

“If we want to find a specific treatment, the first step we have to take is to correctly identify these species.” This is also of epidemiological value to understand parasite distribution, and is aimed at discovering specific control measures.

Another important feature of the study is the usefulness of one of the techniques used: PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction). It is a relatively simple technique, cheap in comparison with others. PCR makes it possible to identify the isolated parasites in field studies.

The results of the study have already been published in some of the most important scientific journals in the field of Parasitology, such as Parasitology Research, Experimental Parasitology or FEMS Microbiology Letters.

Source: Universidad de Granada

Explore further: The Ebola outbreak highlights shortcomings in disease surveillance and response – and where we can do better

Related Stories

Human and animal interaction identified in the viking age

Mar 06, 2015

Since 2001, ancient DNA has been used in paleoparasitological studies to identify eggs found in soil samples from prehistoric periods, because identification cannot be done by morphological study alone. The species of human ...

Healthy piglets? Not with sulfonamides

Dec 05, 2011

Recent work from the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna confirms that sulfonamides can be used to control coccidiosis in piglets, although not without considerable effort and expense. In contrast, the drug toltrazuril ...

Avian malaria also affects wild birds in Austria

Feb 10, 2015

Avian malaria is not uncommon in Central Europe, as many endemic wild birds are infected with species of Plasmodium, which cause avian malaria. In most cases these blood parasites, transmitted by mosquitoes, ...

What makes Toxoplasma gondii so unpredictable?

Dec 01, 2014

Toxoplasma gondii is a common parasite often spread by cats. Most people who are infected in Europe or North America show no symptoms at all, and only a few suffer from encephalitis or ocular toxoplasmosis, ...

Recommended for you

Aspirin to improve leg ulcers

1 hour ago

Researchers are looking at whether aspirin can improve the healing rates of leg ulcers in older adults.

Sierra Leone marks grim Ebola anniversary

5 hours ago

On May 24 last year a pregnant woman and an older housewife staggered into Kenema hospital in eastern Sierra Leone and were diagnosed within a day as the country's first Ebola cases.

MSF fighting cholera outbreak in Tanzania refugee camps

May 24, 2015

Medical charity Medecins sans Frontieres (MSF, Doctors Without Borders) said Sunday it had launched emergency treatment centres in Tanzania, where thousands of Burundians fleeing unrest have been hit by cholera.

Bacteria blamed in indigenous Mexican baby deaths

May 23, 2015

Bacteria—and not a contaminated vaccine as initially suspected—were to blame for the recent deaths of two Mexican babies and for sickening 29 others, according to an official investigation.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.