Parasite's plant origins hint at new drug targets
Sleeping sickness — which affects around half a million people in sub-Saharan Africa each year — is caused by the microbe Trypanosoma brucei. Closely related microbes also cause Chagas' disease (found in South America) and leishmaniasis.
The findings of a team of researchers from Belgium and Brazil suggest that the ancestor of trypanosomes merged with a type of green algae more than a billion years ago. Because the plant-like genes may be crucial for the parasite's survival, these results open up new areas for developing drugs against sleeping sickness.
Link to Nature Science Update news story
Link to abstract of research paper by V. Hannaert et al