New insight in the fight against the Leishmania parasite

Oct 23, 2009

Professor Albert Descoteaux's team at Centre INRS - Institut Armand-Frappier, Canada, has gained a better understanding of how the Leishmania donovani parasite manages to outsmart the human immune system and proliferate with impunity, causing visceral leishmaniasis, a chronic infection that is potentially fatal if left untreated. This scientific breakthrough was recently published in PLoS Pathogens.

Some 350 million people live in areas where leishmaniasis can be contracted. Over 90% of cases are reported in India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sudan, and Brazil. Leishmaniasis is also found in Mexico and elsewhere in South America. There are no effective vaccines to prevent leishmaniasis, and resistance issues greatly reduce the efficacy of conventional medications.

The parasite, which is transmitted to humans during the blood meal of infected sand flies, is internalized via in the liver, spleen, and bone marrow. However, this parasite manages to alter the normal phagocytosis process (destruction of foreign bodies), resist this process, replicate itself, and infect other macrophages. This resistance process notably involves blocking the normal acidification process within the macrophage by disrupting membrane fusions.

To date, few studies have attempted to identify the regulators of these membrane fusions and their role in the phagolysosomal biogenesis process (a compartment where pathogenic microorganisms are usually killed). The work by doctoral candidate Adrien Vinet and Professor Descoteaux shed new light on the biology of Leishmania parasites, particularly the molecular mechanisms by which they manage to outsmart the human .

More information: The research article is available at www.plospathogens.org/article/… journal.ppat.1000628

Source: INRS

Explore further: Delayed introduction to gluten appears not to prevent celiac disease in at-risk infants

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Dermatologists identify North Texas leishmaniasis outbreak

Sep 14, 2007

A team of dermatologists and dermatopathologists at UT Southwestern Medical Center has identified nine North Texas cases of an infectious skin disease common in South America, Mexico and in the Middle East, where it is sometimes ...

Recommended for you

UN says Syria vaccine deaths was an NGO 'mistake'

1 hour ago

The recent deaths of Syrian children after receiving measles vaccinations was the result of a "mistake" by a non-governmental partner who mixed in a muscle relaxant meant for anesthesia, a spokesman for the U.N. secretary-general ...

First US child dies from enterovirus D68

2 hours ago

A child in the northeastern US state of Rhode Island has become the first to die from an ongoing outbreak of a respiratory virus, enterovirus D68, health officials said Wednesday.

US Ebola patient had contact with kids: governor

2 hours ago

A man who was diagnosed with Ebola in virus in Texas came in contact with young children, and experts are monitoring them for any signs of disease, governor Rick Perry said Wednesday.

UN worker dies of suspected Ebola in Liberia

2 hours ago

The United Nations mission in Liberia announced on Wednesday the first suspected victim among its employees of the deadly Ebola epidemic ravaging the impoverished west African nation.

AAO-HNSF clinical practice guideline: Tinnitus

2 hours ago

The American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery Foundation has released the first ever mutli-disciplinary, evidence-based clinical practice guideline to improve the diagnosis and management of tinnitus, the ...

User comments : 0