A new study has revealed in unprecedented detail how parasites use different nutrients needed for growth, providing University of Melbourne researchers with unique drug targets against Leishmania, a tropical parasite that infects 12 million people worldwide and causes 500,000 deaths annually.
A team led by Professor Malcolm McConville from the Bio21 Institute, University of Melbourne developed a new analytical method which can be used for many infectious parasites and bacteria. The technique has revealed which metabolic pathways are essential for the parasite’s survival, down to the particular atoms it uses as a food source.
“This a very significant breakthrough in this field because the more we know about these dangerous pathogens and how they live, the better we can fight them with new, effective drugs,” said Professor McConville.
“Current anti-parasitic drugs have enormous side effects as they don’t target specific pathogen metabolic pathways. We now have a greater understanding of Leishmania and can develop specific drugs with minimal side effects.”