Dundee researchers get £1.7m to tackle trypanosomes
08 October 2008
Scientists at the College of Life Sciences at the University of Dundee are investigating how human African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness), which kills at least 50 000 people per year in sub-Saharan Africa, can be stopped.
Human African trypanosomiasis is transmitted by a parasite called a trypanosome. Professors Mike Ferguson and Ian Gilbert have been awarded Wellcome Trust funding to examine how this parasite builds its vital protective coat.
“This coat helps protect the parasite against the host immune system, which then allows the disease to take hold,” says Professor Ferguson. “We want to understand how the parasite builds the components of the coat so that we can then devise new modes of attack to weaken it.”
There is no vaccine available for human African trypanosomiasis, and the drugs currently in use are extremely toxic and difficult to administer.
Dundee is uniquely placed in the academic world as it can follow the whole process - from making the basic molecular findings that may unlock the assembly of the coat, to testing these as drug targets in the Drug Discovery Unit, which opened in 2006.
Image: Photomicrograph of trypanosomiasis; Wellcome Images