Black Fever: Indian scientists find how black fever causes parasite spreads
Indian scientists have made a significant medical advancement by figuring out how the Leishmania parasite, which causes black fever, targets and spreads more quickly within the body. In order to spread throughout the body, the Leishmania parasite takes advantage of SUMOylation, a crucial regulator of numerous cellular, nuclear, metabolic, and immune processes.
The parasite “Leishmania Donovani,” which sandflies carry in their hair, causes visceral leishmaniasis, also known as Kala-Azar or black fever. The vector flies are found in muddy areas, and researchers have long sought to comprehend the parasite’s mechanism in order to develop more effective treatment plans.
According to Indian scientists, “For the discovery of a drug-like candidate with higher efficacy and less toxicity, a better understanding of the interactions between host and parasite is essential. Leishmaniasis infects humans and replicates intracellular within macrophages, the cells that normally engaged in protecting the host from pathogens.”
Leading the charge were a group of academics from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), who found that Leishmania parasites alter host signalling systems to stifle the host’s defence mechanisms. Dr Shailja Singh, a member of the study, stated that this finding “will open avenues for the development of novel drugs with a targeted approach for the control of this neglected disease.”
The SUMOylation pathway is implicated in the modulation of protective immune responses, favouring parasite survival, according to a study published in the journal Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology. Targeting the SUMOylation pathway can serve as a starting point for the development of novel therapeutic interventions to treat leishmaniasis.
Professor Anand Ranganathan, another corresponding author of the paper stated, “With increasing resistance to antileishmanial drugs, it seems promising to target host-directed approaches for therapeutic interventions and drug development. We are focusing on various aspects of the development of drug-like molecules to combat this disease.”
More than 90% of all new kala-azar cases reported to the WHO in 2020 were found in ten nations, including Brazil, China, Ethiopia, Eritrea, India, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, and Yemen. Anaemia, weight loss, spleen and liver enlargement, as well as irregular, multi-day fever episodes, are all signs of kala-azar.