News / Health

New Strategy Being Developed in the War on Infectious Diseases

Jessica Berman

Many of the drugs we use to fight infections lose their effectiveness as the targeted pathogens acquire resistance to them.  So researchers have begun adopting a new strategy. Instead of using drugs to kill the offending pathogens, they're trying to design drugs that can block their entry into human cells before they can cause disease.

Sooner or later, says Abhay Satoskar, a professor of pathology at Ohio State University, drug resistance becomes a problem in the battle against disease-causing organisms or pathogens. “Any time you have an agent that targets a pathogen, the pathogens are smart and eventually come up with a strategy to make that drug or agent ineffective,” said Satoskar.

Most bacteria, viruses and parasites must enter human immune system cells to reproduce and cause illness.  Satoskar is leading an effort at Ohio State to develop a compound that blocks a pathogen’s entry into the cells.

The experimental drug targets a natural cell enzyme, called P13K, that allows pathogens to pass through the cell wall.  The compound changes the chemical activity of P13K, blocking entry into cells.  

The team demonstrated the effectiveness of the cell-blocking strategy with the parasite that causes leishmaniasis, a tropical illness caused by a parasite transmitted in the bite of a sand fly.  Also known as leishmania, an estimated 1.5 million new cases are diagnosed each year.  The disease causes disfiguring open sores on the skin. Not only is the illness indigenous in many parts of the world, but experts say it is now turning up in U.S. troops returning home from Afghanistan.

There is a drug to treat leishmania, says Satoskar, that’s up to 90 percent effective in curing the disease.  But Satoskar says the medication has a lot of side effects, including anemia, weight loss and neurological problems, and many people don’t complete the 21-day course of injections.

Using laboratory mice, Satoskar says researchers compared the effectiveness of the existing drug to the targeted,  therapy his team is developing.  Satoskar says the new agent worked just as well in treating leishmania, and the cell-blocking strategy could potentially work against other disease-causing organisms or pathogens.

“Now the issue is how to do you fine-tune it?  And that could be fine tune(d) based on different pathogens, because different pathogens could use different pathways to get in,” Satoskar said.

Satoskar also is interested in learning whether the experimental compound could be used as a skin spray to prevent infection with leishmania when someone is bitten by a sand fly.

An article on preventing leishmania by blocking parasites from mice immune cells is published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

You May Like

At International AIDS Conference One Goal, Many Paths

The 12,000 delegates attending 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne have vastly different visions about how to eradicate disease More

Disasters May Doom Malaysia’s Flag Carrier

Even before loss of two jets loaded with passengers on international flights, company had been operating in red for three years, accumulating deficit of $1.3 billion More

Afghan Presidential Vote Audit Continues Despite Glitches

Process has been marred by walkouts by representatives of two competing candidates, Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Agei
X
Elizabeth Lee
July 20, 2014 2:36 AM
Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.
Video

Video Diplomatic Crisis Grows Over MH17 Plane Crash

The Malaysia Airlines crash in eastern Ukraine is drawing reaction from leaders around the world. With suspicions growing that a surface-to-air missile shot down the aircraft, there are increasing tensions in the international community over who is to blame. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Undocumented Immigrants Face Perilous Journey to US, No Guarantees

Every day, hundreds of undocumented immigrants from Central America attempt the arduous journey through Mexico and turn themselves over to U.S. border patrol -- with the hope that they will not be turned away. But the dangers they face along the way are many, and as Ramon Taylor reports from the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, their fate rests on more than just the reception they get at the US border.
Video

Video Scientists Create Blackest Material Ever

Of all the black things in the universe only the infamous "black holes" are so black that not even a tiny amount of light can bounce back. But scientists have managed to create material almost as black, and it has enormous potential use. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Fog Collector Transforming Maasai Water Harvesting in Kenya

The Maasai people of Kenya are known for their cattle-herding, nomadic lifestyle. But it's an existence that depends on access to adequate water for their herds and flocks. Lenny Ruvaga reports for VOA, on a "fog collector."

AppleAndroid