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Projects. Life and Matter Sciences

Characterization of infection biomarkers and possible drug targets present into exosome vesicles generated during in vitro and in vivo infection by Leishmania infantum.

Lead Researcher: Vicente Larraga Rodríguez de Vera
Research Centre: Centro de Investigaciones Biológicas. CSIC. Madrid.


Vicente Larraga Rodríguez de VeraLeishmaniasis is a disease which affect fifteen million people worldwide, with two million of new patients yearly, according to WHO data. It is considered an emerging disease and is endemic at Southern Europe. In Spain, were the species responsible of infection is Leishmania infantum the main clinical form of the disease is the visceral one, deadly without treatment. The main host is dog, with other host less known, as wild canids and hares, responsible of important outbreaks of the disease in the last years, comparable to those appeared at the worse endemic areas in Africa and Asia. At present, there are not available vaccines for the human disease and the only ones in the market, only for dogs, do not provide high percentages of protection and present side effects. The only treatment for humans is chemotherapy, based on drugs that have been used for eighty years that induce resistances and a high percentage of relapses.

The parasite is used to survive among the defense mechanisms against infections developed by the immune system in mammalians. The protozoa live inside the macrophages by blocking its defense mechanisms, using as transport vehicles exosomes, which contain molecules that counteract the macrophage actions against Leishmania. The present project attempts to describe and characterize those blocking signals present into the Leishmania exosomes, directed to the cells in charge of the recognition and defense of the mammalian host. Once known, those molecules and their mechanisms may be inactivated in order to obtain effective treatments against the parasite infection. We will use genomic and proteomic techniques to identify the inactivating signal molecules. Several of them will be used in protection experiments against infection both in vitro and in vivo.

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