●Kala- azar Disease
•It is a disease caused by infection with leishmania parasites
•Kala-azar is endemic to the Indian subcontinent in 119 districts in four countries (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal).
•This disease is the second-largest parasitic killer in the world
•Recently, a team of researchers from the National Centre for Cell Science (NCCS), Pune have found new biomolecules to fight drug resistance in Kala- azar (visceral leishmaniasis)
•Leishmaniasis: It is a neglected tropical disease affecting almost 100 countries including India.
[It is caused by a parasite called Leishmania, which is transmitted through the bite of sand flies]
•The only drug available against leishmaniasis, miltefosine, is rapidly losing its effectiveness because of emerging resistance to this drug due to a decrease in its accumulation inside the parasite.
•A protein called ‘P4ATPase-CDC50’, is responsible for intake of the drug by the parasite, and another protein, called ‘P-glycoprotein’, is responsible for throwing this drug out from within the parasite’s body.
•A decrease in the activity of the former protein, and an increase in the activity of the latter results in less accumulation of miltefosine inside the parasite’s body, thus causing it to become resistant to the drug.
•While exploring ways to tackle miltefosine resistance, the researchers worked with one of the species of Leishmania that causes infection, called Leishmania major.
•They tried to manipulate these transporter proteins in the species in a manner that would result in increased uptake of the drug and decrease in its being thrown out of the parasite’s body.