Project Lead(s): Savannah Mwesigwa
Trypanosoma brucei are protozoan parasites and are among the species responsible for African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness), a devastating yet neglected tropical disease.
According to the World Health Organization, there were an estimated 30,000 cases of human African trypanosomiasis in 2009, with a loss of about two million disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) in 2002.
This disease also caused an estimated loss of about $4.5 billion US in livestock productivity per year, with about three million cattle deaths.
The idea behind the project was to identify potential vaccine candidates for African trypanosomiasis.
The approach taken was to express recombinant Trypanosoma brucei proteins – predicted through bioinformatics tools to be potential surface proteins – to be tested in vitro and eventually with animal models, to determine if they would be potential vaccine candidates.
The project team identified two proteins (Tmp4020 and Tmp5710) that showed surface staining on the parasite by immunofluorescence microscopy, but the team was not able to detect the native protein from whole cell parasites in vitro. The rate of parasite growth in vitro also appeared to be affected by the presence of anti-Tmp5710 antibodies, however further replication and refining still needs to be done.