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by Bill Snyder | Friday, Feb. 15, 2013, 8:00 AM
Chagas disease, a deadly tropical infection caused by the protozoan parasite Trypanosoma cruzi and transmitted by biting insects called “kissing bugs,” has begun to spread around the world. Yet current treatment is toxic and limited to the acute stage.
In The Journal of Infectious Diseases, Galina Lepesheva, Ph.D., research associate professor of Biochemistry, and her colleagues at Vanderbilt University and Meharry Medical College report curing both the acute and chronic forms of the infection in mice with a small molecule, VNI.
VNI specifically inhibits a T. cruzi enzyme (CYP51) involved in the synthesis of sterols, lipid molecules essential for cell membrane function and integrity. In mouse models of Chagas disease, VNI achieved cures with 100 percent survival and without toxic side effects.
About 8 million people have been infected by T. cruzi, mostly in Latin America, but kissing bugs have been found across the southern United States. The finding in mice opens new opportunities for potentially curative treatment, the researchers concluded.
Bill Snyder, (615) 322-4747
Health and Medicine, Reporter, Research Aliquots, biochemistry, Chagas disease, Galina Lepesheva, journal publication, kissing bug, NIAID, NIGMS, NIH, Reporter Feb 15 2013, The Journal of Infectious Diseases, Trypanosoma cruzi, Vanderbilt Institute of Chemical Biology
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