Developing better means of screening for and identifying useful drugs is a key step towards more effective and accessible treatments for patients, especially in poorer parts of the world. Visceral leishmaniasis, caused by infection with Leishmania parasites, is one potentially deadly disease for which more easily distributable treatments are badly needed. Drugs currently available are either very expensive or require a long period of hospitalisation, and can have serious side effects. To identify more suitable medicines, researchers tested the effect of over 170 compounds on macrophages, cells of the immune system, infected with Leishmania parasites (pictured with cell nuclei in red and parasites in green). They monitored the impact of each potential drug on disease progression over several days to measure their speed of action, a key parameter in determining the most effective compounds. Further work on the drugs identified in this assay could yield new treatments in the future.
Written by Emmanuelle Briolat
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