Gene sleuths believe they may have identified potential chinks in the parasite that causes leishmaniasis, a disfiguring and sometimes fatal disease that afflicts some 12 million people around the world . Their comparison of three species of protozoa that cause most cases of leishmaniasis could be a boon for drug engineers, whose budgets for tackling this neglected disease are already slender.
British-led scientists compared the genetic code of Leishmania major, which causes the cutaneous form of leishmaniasis, with those of L. infantum and L. braziliensis, which cause the more dangerous, visceral form of the disease, also called kala-azar. What struck the researchers was that these parasites were very similar genetically, even though they cause very different types of disease.
Each genome has more than 8,000 genes, but only 200 of them differ across the three species. "The degree of similarity between these species was unexpected," said Deborah Smith, a professor at the University of York, northern England. "Perhaps only a few parasite genes are important in determining which type of disease develops after infection, and the host genome plays a major role in clinical outcome."
Another surprise was to find a small number of genes that have never been spotted before. Fellow investigator Chris Peacock described these novel genes as a "short cut" that could help the pharmaceutical quest. "Given their lack of similarity to human genes, they present a limited repertoire of potential targets for drug and vaccine development, allowing researchers to optimise the use of limited resources."
The Leishmania parasite is transmitted in the saliva of sandflies, who tuck in to a blood meal on humans, wild animals and dogs. Around 350 million people in 88 countries are "at risk" of the disease, whose incidence has risen sharply over the past decade, according to the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, a British medical research chPage: 1 2 Related medicine news :1
. Tomato Sauce reduces Cancer Risk- Study2
. Study on obesity and heart failure 3
. National Lung Study in the process 4
. Study casts doubt on keyboard ills5
. Study reveals how stress can make you sick6
. Study reveals how stress can make you sick7
. Study supports vegetable diet8
. Study to look at early surgery to treat epilepsy9
. Its Never Too Late to Stop Smoking,Study Finds
. New Technique to Study Infants Brain.11
. Groundbreaking Study Gives Hope For Patients With Kidney Cancer