Pathogenic protozoans of the trypanosomatid group still remain a major world health problem. Cycling between insect vectors and mammalian hosts, Trypanosoma cruzi is the causative agent of Chagas disease, while over 20 Leishmania species cause Leishmaniasis. About 6 million are estimated to be infected with Chagas disease in Latin America, with approximately 61 million people at risk. Leishmaniasis, in its different forms, has been detected in 102 countries. Chagas disease has become a worldwide problem and is increasingly detected in the USA, Canada and in many European countries due mainly to population mobility and migration. There is no vaccine and the treatment is long, expensive and difficult to be implemented with multiple daily injections. Moreover, the WHO has reported the emergence of resistant strains. There is therefore an urgent need to develop new therapeutic strategies.
The aim of this project is to develop inhibitors of Trypanosomatid protein synthesis machinery which is essential for cell growth and proliferation. This project is in collaboration with Nilson Zanchin & Beatriz Guimarães from the Laboratory of Proteomics and Protein Engineering at Instituto Carlos Chagas-FIOCRUZ in Brasil and the Chemistry and Biocatalysis Unit at Institut Pasteur-Paris headed by Sylvie Pochet.