Reto Brun (Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute) and Isabel Roditi (University of Bern) in Switzerland seek to identify small molecules that prematurely induce African trypanosomes, which are parasites that cause fatal sleeping sickness, to differentiate into the life stages necessary for transmission of the parasite. Forcing this transformation within the mammalian host could be the basis for new methods to kill trypanosomes, and this concept might be applied to other vector-borne disease . In this project's Phase I research, Brun and Roditi developed a whole-cell assay to identify small molecules that stimulate early differentiation of African trypanosomes. In Phase II, they will perform high-throughput screens for such small molecules, validate active molecules in a suite of assays, and study them in a mouse model of infection.
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