Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Research identifies first method for testing, assessing drug treatments for Chagas' disease

22.04.2008
Chagas’ disease is a tropical parasitic sickness that currently affects more than 16 million people, with a staggering 100 million at risk, largely in the tropical areas of South and Central America. And yet the main drug used to treat the disease is highly toxic and causes serious side effects.

Now, new research just published by scientists at the University of Georgia has identified for the first time a sensitive method for testing and assessing the efficacy of treatments for Chagas’ disease. The study could lead to new treatments for long-term sufferers of a disease that can be fatal.

“It is the first time we’ve been able to identify a set of measurements to determine whether or not a drug for Chagas actually works,” said Rick Tarleton, distinguished research professor of cellular biology and a faculty member at UGA’s Center for Tropical and Emerging Global Diseases.

The research was published today in the online edition of the journal Nature Medicine. Co-authors, also from the University of Georgia, are postdoctoral associate Juan Bustamante and master’s degree student Lisa Bixby.

The research presents the first and only evidence that the current drug therapies for Chagas’ disease can actually completely cure the infection. Still, current treatments have potentially severe side effects and are thought to be effective in less than 50 percent of those treated. More important, the model the team developed can be used for the development of better drugs against Trypanosoma cruzi, the parasite that causes the disease.

“We also found that the immunological markers of cure in this system, which we developed in mice, provide a means to monitor drug treatment efficacy in humans, something that has been the biggest impediment to developing new drugs,” said Tarleton.

There’s a fourth finding more important to the big picture of immunology, however. This study shows that chronic infections do not by default exhaust the immune system.

“Current dogma on chronic infections is that constant stimulation of the immune system eventually wears it out, which is one of the problems in treating such disorders as HIV/AIDS,” said Tarleton. “This study shows that one can have an infection for more than a year, but, when cured, the immune system develops a stable, protective memory.”

This idea of “memory” is at the heart of the study, and it involves T-cells, specifically one kind called cytotoxic or “killer” T-cells, which are blood-borne white blood cells that destroy T. cruzi-infected cells in the case of Chagas’ disease and virally infected and tumor cells in other cases. Tarleton and his colleagues documented the development of stable killer T-cell “memory” following drug-induced cure of a chronic infection. In other words, when the body is cleared of parasites, the killer T-cells, which may have been “exhausted” by battling the persistent infection, bounce back and recall how to do their job.

The implications of the study could be considerable, Tarleton said. The T. cruzi parasite is passed to humans from the bite of blood-sucking assassin bugs, which go by many names, including “kissing bugs.” The infection can also be acquired through contaminated blood transfusions and by eating food contaminated with parasites.

In its first stages, the disease often causes no more than a local swelling at the point of the bite. This acute phase often passes, but the malady, if untreated, can then enter a chronic phase that can last for decades and cause heart disease and intestinal disorders. In many cases, Chagas’, named for the Brazilian scientist who first described it nearly a century ago, is fatal.

While several hundred thousand people in the United States may have the disease, these are largely immigrants from Latin American countries. The disease, however, is a major public health issue in all of South America and kills as many as 50,000 people each year, according to some estimates, making it the most significant parasitic disease of the Americas, Tarleton said.

Kim Osborne | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.uga.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht The importance of biodiversity in forests could increase due to climate change
17.11.2017 | Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig

nachricht Win-win strategies for climate and food security
02.10.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

Im Focus: Researchers Develop Data Bus for Quantum Computer

The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.

Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...

Im Focus: Wrinkles give heat a jolt in pillared graphene

Rice University researchers test 3-D carbon nanostructures' thermal transport abilities

Pillared graphene would transfer heat better if the theoretical material had a few asymmetric junctions that caused wrinkles, according to Rice University...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA detects solar flare pulses at Sun and Earth

17.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

NIST scientists discover how to switch liver cancer cell growth from 2-D to 3-D structures

17.11.2017 | Health and Medicine

The importance of biodiversity in forests could increase due to climate change

17.11.2017 | Studies and Analyses

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>