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Scientists Getting Close to Treat Sleeping Sickness


Scientists Getting Close to Treat Sleeping Sickness

ePharmaNews) – Sleeping sickness, which is common in Africa, is mostly mentioned with sense of humor, yet it is a potentially fatal disease that kills many people in Africa each year. Not only there is no effective vaccine, but also the available medicines to treat this disease are highly toxic, which means the new advantage achieved by scientists at the University of Glasgow can be of great importance.

In their research - published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences - scientists have gained new insight into a specific protein within the parasite responsible for the disease, which could help in the design of new parasite-specific drugs.

Transmitted by the tsetse fly, sleeping sickness is a neglected tropical disease spread by the Trypanosoma brucei parasite. Left untreated it is invariably fatal.

Scientists believe that a better way of fighting the disease would be to target specific proteins in the parasite called metacaspases, which have been shown to be important for its survival.

A first step in creating such a drug is to understand the structure of the proteins and scientists at Glasgow have successfully determined the first three-dimensional structure of a metacapase – one of five found within T. brucei – using X-ray crystallography.

Dr Karen McLuskey, a senior research associate in the Wellcome Trust Centre for Molecular Parasitology, said: “This structure allows us to visualise important details of how the metacaspase interacts with the proteins that it is destined to destroy”.

Professor Jeremy Mottram, leader of the research team, said “Overall, this structure provides a means towards designing specific inhibitors of metacaspases that can potentially be used for the development of novel drugs against parasitic diseases.”

It is worth mentioning that African Sleeping Sickness - or what has been called the Neglected Tropical Disease- results in an estimated half million deaths annually according to the newest available data.


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Prepared by: Laila Nour


Source :

ePharmaNews






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