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.