Chagas Disease in Central and South America
Triatoma infestans, a common vector
for Chagas disease in Argentina
For nearly 10 years, the laboratories of Dr. Ravi Durvasula have been working closely with collaborators in Guatemala, Brazil, and Argentina to develop novel paratransgenic approaches to control of vectorial transmission of Chagas disease. A description of these projects is highlighted below:
- Ongoing studies in the Durvasula lab focus on development of novel targets on the surface of the parasite, T. cruzi, which can be used for paratransgenic control. Molecular strategies, including use of anti-trypanosomal peptides, single chain antibodies, and endoglucanases that disrupt the surface of T. cruzi, are being developed with funding through an NIH RO1 grant.
- A second RO1 grant aimed at characterization of the Chagas vector, Triatoma infestans, in the Argentine Gran Chaco is under review at NIAID (revised submission 11/08). Trainees in the Program will be able to pursue specialized training in areas related to molecular microbiology, molecular entomology, cloning and plasmid design, molecular parasitology, and risk assessment studies related to paratransgenic control of Chagas disease. Trainees with particular interest in the molecular biology of the parasite, T. cruzi, can gain valuable experience in molecular aspects of T. cruzi pathogenesis and design of novel molecules with anti-trypanosomal activity.