Science & Tech

A novel treatment for Kala-Azar infection

The Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science (IACS) in Kolkata has demonstrated the potential of quinoline derivatives to treat drug-resistant leishmaniasis, also known as kala-azar or black fever.

What exactly is Kala Azar?

  • Kala-Azar is a neglected tropical illness transmitted by sandflies and caused by protozoan parasites of the genus Leishmania.
  • It affects the world’s poorest people in more than 90 nations across Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Central and South America.
  • The current annual projection of kala-azar is around 100,000.
  • More than 95% of cases reported to the WHO are from India and other tropical nations, with the most common cause being HIV co-infection, which results in immunocompromised status.

How does Quinoline work over this?

  • The quinoline derivative is an effective suppressor of the enzyme topoisomerase 1. (LdTop1).
  • This enzyme, which differs from the one present in humans, is required for the maintenance of DNA architecture in parasites.
  • Poisoning LdTop1 causes significant cytotoxicity in both the wild type and antimony-resistant Leishmania parasites found in the guts of sandfly vectors (promastigotes) and in infected people (amastigotes).
  • This is accomplished without causing death in human or mouse host cells.

The Importance of Quinoline Treatment

  • In rural India, overcoming drug resistance in clinical leishmaniasis is a major problem.
  • Current kala-azar treatment methods employ toxic formulations that cause high amounts of drug resistance.

What exactly is the breakthrough?

  • The new leishmania parasite inhibitor was discovered by screening them against recombinant Leishmania topoisomerase 1 enzyme.
  • In total, 21 derivatives were made and tested for antileishmanial activity, with one of them proving effective.
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