TRANSMISSION OF AFRICAN TRYPANOSOMES
African trypanosomes are flagellated protist parasites that cause sleeping sickness in humans and nagana in cattle in Sub-Saharan Africa. These parasites are exclusively transmitted by the bite of the tsetse fly. Successful transmission is the outcome of crosstalk between the trypanosome and its insect host acting as a vector. This enables the parasite to undergo successive rounds of differentiation, proliferation and migration, culminating in the infection of a new mammalian host.
Our group is studying various aspects of the parasite cyclical development in the tsetse fly, including carbohydrate metabolism, motility and flagellum sensing, with the perspectives of blocking parasite development by paratransgenic approaches in the tsetse fly vector.
Today, we are mostly focusing on the early steps of infection in the mammalian host after the infective bite in order to unravel the differentiation, proliferation and migration events occuring during the disease onset, with the purposes of developping new approaches for diagnosis and treatment.
Skin-dwelling trypanosomes: the missing link towards elimination?
Our group, working in collaboration with scientists from the University of Kinshasa, the University of Glasgow and the IRD, have demonstrated the presence of a large quantity of trypanosomes – the parasites responsible for sleeping sickness – in the skin of individuals with no symptoms. This discovery should refocus the screening strategy for this disease, which was previously based on the detection of parasites in the bloodstream, and raises the possibility of eliminating the disease in West Africa.
Capewell et al. eLife 2016 – ANR projects EnTrypa and TrypaDerm