Infectious diseases: Italy leader of an international project
The University of Modena and Reggio Emilia will coordinate an international research project funded by 7.6 million euro from the European Commission aimed at identifying new molecules for the treatment of infectious diseases due to parasites, including leishmaniasis and trypanosomiasis.
The project will be carried out by a research consortium called “New Medicine for Trypanosomatidic Infections – NMTrypI” and will involve about 50 researchers, 8 from universities in Europe or in countries where these diseases are endemic, including Brazil and Sudan, and 5 small- to medium-sized enterprises. The research team in Modena will be coordinated by Maria Paola Costi, professor of Pharmaceutical Biotechnology at the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia.
The dissemination of infectious diseases due to microorganisms belonging to the Trypanosomatidae family – i.e. trypanosomiasis that causes sleeping sickness and leishmaniasis – is a very important issue in some areas of the World, including Africa, South America and India, where these parasites are endemic. In Italy, the impact of these diseases is lower but should not be under-evaluated, since leishmaniasis can become a serious problem, for example, when it affects children or it is associated with AIDS, while canine leishmaniasis is a very important “reserve” of parasites for this disease.
With this new three-year research project, researchers aim at developing new active principles to be used in association with existing drugs. A considerable part of the project will also be dedicated to the investigation of substances of natural origin capable to fight these diseases that are an important global healthcare problem.