Blaise Dondji (Biological Sciences)
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, rodents, canines) is where infection of leishmaniasis begins and has the potential to rapidly spread. 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 devastating 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 and relative high cost of currently available drugs. Some bridged lactam-lactones and amino lactones have offered evidence of activity against Leishmania parasite similar or better than Amphotericin B, one of the drugs of choice. Active compounds were screened for the lowest effective concentration with some active at 25 ug/mL and others at 50 ug/mL. Additional compounds are being assessed with potential in vivo treatment of leishmaniasis.
Keywords: DISCOVERY, PARASITOLOGY, DISEASE