On the track of the deadly parasite Leishmania

Leishmaniasis is one of the most underreported and insufficiently monitored diseases in the world. According to the WHO more than 300.000 people are infected annually with the most severe form of this disease - kala-azar. The treatment against this forgotten disease becomes increasingly difficult, and sometimes impossible as the parasites developed resistance against the existing drugs. Now scientists from Europe, India and Nepal have joined forces within the European Research Project Kaladrug-R to regain control against this disease and develop new effective clinical tools.

Leishmaniasis is one of the most underreported and insufficiently monitored diseases in the world affecting mainly the poorest and most disadvantaged people on the Indian Subcontinent, Latin America and East Africa. The disease is caused by tiny , the Leishmania, and transmitted by the bite of an infected sandfly.

Scientists at the Institute of Tropical Medicine in Antwerp, Belgium, are investigating why more and more Leishmania parasites develop resistance against existing drugs. Within the European Research Project Kaladrug-R partners from Europe, India and Nepal are developing simple clinical tools with the aim to use them in the high-risk areas on the Indian Subcontinent. This way, the scientists in India will be able to monitor the effectiveness of the drugs, and the degree of infection, and therefore the spread of drug resistance.

In its most severe form – the visceral Leishmanisis called kala-azar – the parasites seize the internal organs, and without treatment it will lead to death. That is why this form of the disease is stated to be the second largest parasitic killer after malaria. The World Health Organisation (WHO) is reporting 300,000 new cases annually.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.

As the drug-resistant parasites become more widespread, the treatment against this forgotten disease becomes increasingly difficult, and sometimes impossible. Now, only the protection against the bites of sandflies and new innovative research could help to regain control against this deadly disease.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Kala-azar treatment failing in Nepal

Mar 01, 2013

In a recent study, scientists have concluded that the cure rates of Miltefosine, the only oral drug for visceral leishmaniasis available, have significantly decreased. Miltefosine was introduced in the Indian subcontinent ...

Belgian scientists develop way to detect superparasites

Jul 19, 2012

Belgian scientists of the Institute of Tropical Medicine (ITM) in Antwerp, Belgium made a breakthrough in bridging high tech molecular biology research on microbial pathogens and the needs of the poorest of ...

Recommended for you

Senegal closes border as UN warns on Ebola flare-up

4 hours ago

Senegal has become the latest country to seal its border with a west African neighbour to ward off the deadly Ebola virus, as the new UN pointman on the epidemic said preparations must be made for a possible flare-up of the ...

Climate change could see dengue fever come to Europe

4 hours ago

Dengue fever could make headway in popular European holiday destinations if climate change continues on its predicted trajectory, according to research published in open access journal BMC Public Health.

American Ebola doc: 'I am thrilled to be alive'

12 hours ago

Calling it a "miraculous day," an American doctor infected with Ebola left his isolation unit and warmly hugged his doctors and nurses on Thursday, showing the world that he poses no public health threat ...

User comments