In Vitro assessment of synthesized organic compound activity against Leishmania major, the causative agent of human cutaneous leishmaniasis.

Student: Cameron Smith

Mentor: Dr. Blaise Dondji- Biological Sciences and Dr. Timothy Beng-Chemistry


Leishmania are protozoan parasites and causative agents of leishmaniasis, utilizing female sandflies (a blood sucking parasite) as their vector for transmission. A bite from an infected female sand-fly to vertebrates (notably humans and canines) is where infection of leishmaniasis begins. Today, it is estimated that leishmaniasis is prevalent in over 88 countries with more than 15 million infected globally and 400,000 cases emerging annually. Prevalence of this parasite is seen predominantly in tropical to sub-tropical regions throughout the world and prevails in underdeveloped nations thus earning the nickname “poor man’s disease.” This disease exists in three clinical forms: cutaneous, mucocutaneous, and visceral, with visceral being the most lethal especially if left untreated. Our lab has developed in vitro assays to assess the activity of organic compounds against the causative agent of leishmaniasis. This project is of great public health importance considering the toxicity of currently available drugs. Some bridged lactam-lactones have offered evidence of activity against Leishmania parasite being similar or better that Amphotericin B, one of the drugs of choice. Successful compounds will be screened for toxicity on mammalian cell and additional compounds will be assessed with potential in vivo treatment of leishmaniasis.


5 thoughts on “In Vitro assessment of synthesized organic compound activity against Leishmania major, the causative agent of human cutaneous leishmaniasis.”

  1. Just because I commented on a prior poster….. Cartographer here. I highly recommend using a compromise projection (like a Robinson) over what looks like a Gall-Peters. Also, and I can’t tell on the low res version provided, but it looks like you’re displaying continuous data with discrete colors. If so, you should be using a continuous color scheme.

  2. Nice presentation Cameron! When picking/selecting/creating the compounds you used, how did you decide which ones you thought might be effective? Did you base the compounds off previous research?

    1. Hey Lauren,
      Many of the compounds tested are grouped into a class of similar compounds once synthesized. For example, many of the compounds I am currently testing are under the category “bridged lactam-lactones,” based on a common functional group which they all contain. These compounds are synthesized by the Beng lab group based on previous activity to an extent and selected for purity and potential activity thereafter. From there, compounds are generally randomly selected for testing within the group of compounds against anti-leishmanial activity!

  3. Nice job, Cameron! Echoing Lauren’s question, I am also curious about the strategies for selecting candidate compounds to test.

  4. Nice work, Cameron! Seems like you got some really interesting results. Excited to see further research on Leishmania from you, Dr. Dondji, and Dr. Beng. I also really enjoyed the visuals on the presentation, especially the maps! Gives more perspective on Leishmania for people that don’t know much about it.

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