Navigation Links
The kiss of death: Research targets lethal disease spread by insect that bites lips
Date:4/29/2010

It makes your skin crawla bug that crawls onto your lips while you sleep, drawn by the exhaled carbon dioxide, numbs your skin, bites, then gorges on your blood. And if that's not insult enough, it promptly defecates on the woundand passes on a potentially deadly disease.

Now Jean-Paul Paluzzi, a PhD candidate in biology at the University of Toronto Mississauga, believes that manipulating physiology to prevent the insects from leaving their messy calling card represents the best hope for stopping the transmission of the illness, known as Chagas' disease.

"This is a disease of the poor," says Paluzzi, who has visited parts of the world affected by the illness. "The bugs are found in makeshift homes with mud walls and palm tree-like ceilings. Unfortunately, the people of Central and South America that this affects don't have sufficient voice to get help. Given that there are roughly 15 to 19 million people that are infecteda substantial proportion of that area's populationit's a disease that's been neglected."

Chagas' disease is one of the major health problems in South and Central America and is spread by reduvid bugs, also known as "kissing bugs" because of their fondness for lips. The disease they transmit is caused by Trypanosoma cruzi, a parasite that lives in their gut. In the initial acute stage, symptoms are relatively mild, but as the disease progresses over several years, serious chronic symptoms can appear, such as heart disease and malformation of the intestines. Without treatment, it can be fatal. Currently, insecticide sprays are used to control insect populations, and anti-parasitic drugs are somewhat successful at treating acute infections. Once the disease is chronic, it cannot be cured.

To make matters worse, kissing bugs are particularly "bloodthirsty". In mosquitoes, which go through four distinct stages of development, only adult females feed on blood (and potentially transmit disease). This means that pest control methods need to target only one out of eight stages (when you include both sexes). But in kissing bugs, each sex feeds on blood through all fives stages of development. "So you have about a ten-fold greater chance of infection just because of the number of times that these insects have to feed," says Paluzzi.

His research focuses on insect diuresismore specifically, the genes and peptides that control how the kissing bug eliminates excess fluid in its gut after it gorges on blood. For the insect, the real prize in its meal is the red blood cells, while the water and salt is "excess baggage". After they feed, the bugs are bloated and sluggish, and must jettison the waste so they can make their escape.

Here's how it happens: when the kissing bug finds a snoozing victim and feeds, its levels of serotonin and diuretic hormones rise sharply, targeting the insect's midgut and Malpighian tubules (the equivalent of kidneys), and triggering the release of waste. About four hours later, a peptide named CAP2b is released in the insect's gut, abolishing the effect of the diuretic hormones.

Paluzzi has identified two genes (RhoprCAPA-alpha and RhoprCAPA-beta) that carry the chemical recipe for the peptides that stop diuresis. With that information, he hopes to create a peptide "agonist"something that would enhance the activity of the CAP2B peptide and prevent the insect from leaving waste (and the parasite) on the wound. In theory, says Paluzzi, this might be an insecticide-like room spray or topical lotion that is biologically stable and has no effect on humans or other insects. Paluzzi is collaborating with a structural biochemist at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in Texas, with the ultimate goal of creating a pest control solution, but he cautions that a market-ready product is many years away.


'/>"/>

Contact: Nicolle Wahl
nicolle.wahl@utoronto.ca
905-569-4656
University of Toronto
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Stopping unwanted cell death: Implications for drug discovery
2. From delicious to death: Understanding taste
3. Pitt researchers discover big role for microRNA in lethal lung fibrosis
4. NIST, Maryland researchers COMMAND a better class of liposomes
5. Research shows part of Alaska inundated by ancient megafloods
6. New womens health researcher brings $6.8 million in funding to MSU
7. Mount Sinai researchers discover potential treatment for bone death in the hip from osteonecrosis
8. Researchers study effect of yuma desalting plant on Cienega de Santa Clara
9. Defense-scale supercomputing comes to alternative energy research
10. Drug may treat cystic fibrosis, other diseases caused by nonsense mutations, UAB researcher says
11. Weill Cornell researchers find that a single gene is responsible for OCD-like behaviors in mice
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
The kiss of death: Research targets lethal disease spread by insect that bites lips
(Date:3/31/2016)... , March 31, 2016   ... ("LegacyXChange" or the "Company") LegacyXChange is excited ... of its soon to be launched online site for ... https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCyTLBzmZogV1y2D6bDkBX5g ) will also provide potential shareholders a ... DNA technology to an industry that is notorious for ...
(Date:3/29/2016)... 2016 LegacyXChange, Inc. (OTC: ... SelectaDNA/CSI Protect are pleased to announce our successful effort ... variety of writing instruments, ensuring athletes signatures against counterfeiting ... from athletes on LegacyXChange will be assured of ongoing ... Bill Bollander , CEO states, "By ...
(Date:3/22/2016)... March 22, 2016 ... Sensors Market for Consumer Industry by Type (Image, ... Application (Communication & IT, Entertainment, Home Appliances, ... Forecast to 2022", published by MarketsandMarkets, the ... to reach USD 26.76 Billion by 2022, ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 23, 2016   Boston ... of novel compounds designed to target cancer stemness ... has been granted Orphan Drug Designation from the ... treatment of gastric cancer, including gastroesophageal junction (GEJ) ... inhibitor designed to inhibit cancer stemness pathways by ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... ... and Mold) microbial test has received AOAC Research Institute approval 061601. , “This ... introduced last year,” stated Bob Salter, Vice President of Regulatory and Industrial Affairs. ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... Supplyframe, the Industry ... Supplyframe Design Lab . Located in Pasadena, Calif., the Design Lab’s mission ... hardware projects are designed, built and brought to market. , The Design Lab ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 23, 2016  Blueprint Bio, a ... discoveries to the medical community, has closed its Series ... Matthew Nunez . "We have received a ... the capital we need to meet our current goals," ... provide us the runway to complete validation on the ...
Breaking Biology Technology: