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Metabolism cycle of Kala-Azar parasite revealed

Researchers have found that Leishmania parasite utilizes mannose for their metabolism// and growth different from human metabolism which requires glucose.

Associate Professor Malcolm McConville and his research team from Bio21 Institute at the University of Melbourne have found a break thorough to control the spread of the parasite Leishmania in the blood. Leishmania is found to utilize sugar mannose in the blood for their metabolism and growth and it was found that it does not use glucose for its metabolism which is used by us. So, it is possible to develop new drugs that will kill the parasites by selectively disrupting the mannose metabolism, without causing affect to the glucose metabolism in the humans.

Leishmaniasis, known as Kala-Azar in India, infects at least 12 million people worldwide, in India, Bangladesh, Nepal and parts of Africa. It usually affects the poor, and can be fatal if left untreated. It is very hard to kill these parasites, as these parasites are so similar to ours that the drugs we use kill our cells too. The parasite spreads by sand flies; the leishmania parasite infects certain white blood cells known as macrophages.

“Our discovery not only offers hope for leishmaniasis,” says Prof. McConville. “It may help us to develop drugs for many other microbial pathogens which use mannose – including those involved in malaria and tuberculosis. “In addition to providing solution to treating Kala-Azar, what would be of equal interest to a country like India is the potential this discovery provides to tackle the two other major scourges – malaria and tuberculosis,” he said.

Leishmaniasis was largely unknown in the west, recently it was found to be re-emerging there. American troops returning from Iraq have been told not to give blood for a year to prevent he possible spread of the parasite into the U.S. blood supply. Last year, the parasite was found in kangaroos in the northern Australia.

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