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article imageParasites that become harder to kill

By Tim Sandle     Oct 11, 2013 in Science
Scientists studying parasites have shown that should a few parasites survive a drug treatment then the parasites seem to adapt and can re-infect the host with renewed virulence.
The findings have come from studies on the parasite leishmaniasis (kalaazar). Leishmania infection is a disease caused by protozoan parasites that belong to the genus Leishmania and is transmitted by the bite of certain species of sand fly. The symptoms of leishmaniasis are skin sores which erupt weeks to months after the person affected is bitten by sand flies.
The disease has proven difficult to treat, in part because a large percentage of patients who take the drug of choice, miltefosine, relapse after treatment, coming down with the same disease all over again. Miltefosine (trade names Impavido and Miltex) is a phospholipid drug.
By studying this effect, scientists have found that parasites from relapsed patients show an increased capacity to infect host cells. To verify this, the researchers collected from parasites patients before and after treatment and genetically fingerprinted them. This indicated that the patients were not simply re-infected with new parasites once their treatment ended.
The findings have been published in the journal mBio®. The paper is titled “Relapse after Treatment with Miltefosine for Visceral Leishmaniasis Is Associated with Increased Infectivity of the Infecting Leishmania donovani Strain.”
More about Parasites, Infection, leishmaniasis, kalaazar
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