Research has revealed, in unprecedented detail, how parasites use different nutrients needed for growth, showing unique drug targets against Leishmania, a tropical parasite that infects 12 million people worldwide and causes 500,000 deaths annually.
The new study is published in the current issue of the international Journal of Biological Chemistry.
The team developed a new analytical method that can be used for many infectious parasites and bacteria. The technique has revealed which metabolic pathways are essential for the parasite’s survival, down to the particular atoms it uses as a food source.
Leishmania causes a range of infections in humans, from skin conditions to organ infection which can be fatal. The parasite lives within tiny sandflies which bite an animal or human to get the blood they require to produce eggs, thereby passing on the Leishmania parasite.