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t-cruzi parasite


Diseases caused by several genera of the family Trypanosomatidae remain a significant public health threat in many regions of the world. Thus, Leishmania are responsible for the multitude of forms of Leishmaniasis which remain serious problems in many tropical and subtropical regions of the world (Vickerman, 1994) . Likewise, many members of the genus Trypanosoma are responsible for human and animal disease; i.e., recent estimates suggest that more than 16 million people throughout Latin America are currently infected with T. cruzi, causative agent of Chagas’ Disease (Schofeld and Dias, 1997; Tarleton and Zhang, 1999; Prata, 2001). Sleeping sickness, which is caused by T. brucei and its derivatives, remains a public health and economic problem in Central Africa (Barrett and Barrett, 2000) . Finally, members of the genus Phytomonas infect and destroy important cash crops including coconut and oil palms, coffee and cassava (Vickerman, 1994; Camargo and Wallace, 1994) . Although acute stage Chagas’ Disease has been controlled in some parts of Latin America (Schofield and Dias, 1999) , therapeutic agents are highly toxic, and there is no treatment for chronic Chagas’ Disease. Similarly, diseases caused by other trypanosomatids remain a very serious threat. Therefore, new treatment strategies must be devised, and these will very likely be derived from application of contemporary molecular modeling strategies to develop inhibitors of novel processes in the basic biology and pathogenesis of the parasites. Since the trypanosomatids are thought to have diverged very early from the higher eukaryotes, they do exhibit many characteristics and biological processes that differ from their mammalian hosts. These differences are clearly of much more than esoteric interest; since they have clear potential for development of new disease control strategies.


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Center for the Study of Biological Complexity
Virginia Commonwealth University

Date last modified: 1/13/05
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