Leishmaniases are zoonotic diseases caused by a protozoa of the genus Leishmania. Visceral leishmaniasis, caused by L. chagasi in the Americas, is the most severe form of the disease, according to the World Health Organization, and it is considered one of the seven greatest epidemics worldwide in terms of impact, affecting more than 68 countries and four continents, with estimated incidence of 500,000 new cases per year worldwide. Brazil is part of the group of countries with the highest prevalence of this disease, concentrating 90% of the cases registered in Latin America. The human visceral leishmaniasis has been reported in 21 Brazilian states since 1934, and since the 90's, its incidence in the country has significantly increased. In the state of São Paulo, more than 90% of autochthonous cases are concentrated in the Midwest region. Taking this into account, the regions of Marilia, Bauru and Adamantina, have been selected as the focus of this project, which aims to develop a molecular diagnostic method, sensitive and specific for detection of Leishmania species in clinical samples from humans and dogs. The method is based on a single-copy gene that encodes an enzyme essential for the life cycle of the parasite, the chitinase. In addition, it will be possible to perform a retrospective genomic-epidemiological study about visceral leishmaniasis through molecular characterization of the gene region V7-V8 SSU rDNA and the chitinase gene itself, through phylogenetic inferences of parasites isolated from clinical specimens collected from symptomatic human and canine hosts. With these results, we intend to also generate subsidies for epidemiological surveillance programs of visceral leishmaniasis in the Midwest region, as well as in the state of São Paulo.
News published in Agência FAPESP Newsletter about the scholarship: