07 Nov Fighting a global health scourge
Protecting against a devastating tropical disease
Schistosomiasis is a devastating neglected tropical disease that affects as many as 250 million people, mostly in Africa, Asia and South America. This debilitating disease causes anemia, malnutrition, pervasive learning disabilities, and kills an estimated 280,000 people each year. In Wisconsin, thousands of miles from where schistosomiasis is most prevalent, the Newmark lab is working hard to find a way to prevent this disease, which predominantly afflicts the world’s poorest people.
Schistosomiasis is caused by parasitic flatworms called schistosomes. Once schistosomes enter the human body, they travel to blood vessels around the liver or bladder and cause severe health problems. A single drug, Praziquantel, is currently the only form of treatment available. However, Praziquantel is only able to kill the parasite in its adult form, and is ineffective on other stages of the parasite’s life cycle. That means Praziquantel can only help treat people who are already suffering from the disease and cannot be used preventatively. Researchers in the Newmark lab are working to develop a treatment that protects people from being infected in the first place.
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