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Can Anti-Cancer Drugs Treat Visceral Leishmaniasis

Visceral leishmaniasis is the second-largest killer disease in the world from parasites after malaria. It is responsible for an estimated 500,000 cases of death each year worldwide. The parasite causing this disease is potent enough to penetrate into the internal organs like bone marrow, spleen and liver. If left untreated, it definitely proves fatal. According to the World Health Organization, Visceral leishmaniasis is emerging as co-infection of HIV too. But researchers at the Centre for Immunology and Infection at the University of York suggest that anti-cancer drugs can be handy in the treatment of this infectious disease as well. The results of the findings are published in the March 15th online edition of the Journal of Clinical Investigation. This article tries to gain further insight into this topic.

Knowledge Gained from Research:

  • The tumour is a chunk of malignant cells which use the proteins of the body and get the required nourishment.
  • It develops protective mechanisms and hides itself from the natural defence system of our body called the immune system.
  • Anti-cancer drugs, technically called anti-angiogenic drugs, inhibit cancer by not allowing the growth of new blood vessels of the tumour.
  • In a person suffering from chronic infection, normal functioning of the tissues get hampered as the immune system becomes ineffective.
  • The researchers found that the anti-angiogenic drugs address this very issue.
  • They improve the state of the tissues destroyed by infection by generating responses in them from the immune system.
  • This improvement in the response from the immune system increases the effectiveness of the existing treatment techniques of infectious diseases.
  • Doctors can now use lower doses of drugs which treat leishmaniasis, as they have unavoidable side effects.
  • According to the principal researchers of this study, the findings of this research can treat a range of globally important diseases.
  • The research has proved to be useful in two ways as it helped to gain better understanding of cancer treatment apart from developing ways to treat leishmaniasis.
  • The research was initially funded by the Medical Research Council and the Wellcome Trust.
  • The research to understand the role of anti-angiogenic drugs as “preconditioning agent” in the treatment of cancer melanoma was later funded by Yorkshire Cancer Research.

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