Harnessing snake venoms to make T. brucei forever go to sleep

A. Martos Esteban, Mark Carrington, A. H. Laustsen

Research output: Contribution to journalConference abstract in journalResearchpeer-review


Trypanosoma brucei is a parasitic protozoan species capable of infecting insects, whose bite transmits African sleeping sickness (trypanosomiasis) in humans. Current treatments are becoming ineffective due to the parasite’s ability to avoid the lytic immunogenic response of the host. The parasite achieves this avoidance by modifying the composition of its outer coat, which is mainly composed of Variable Surface Glycoprotein (VSG). Snake venoms are composed of toxic proteins and peptides, with or without enzymatic activity, and a range of other molecules that may influence physiological processes. Previously, it has been demonstrated that viper venoms are able to kill certain parasitic species, but elapid snake venoms have never been investigated. The venom of the elapid Naja nigricollis (black-necked spitting cobra) is mainly composed of cytotoxic three-finger toxins (cytotoxins) that interfere with and disrupt cellular membranes with high target specificity. Here, we investigated how T. brucei is affected when this parasite is subjected to whole venom of N. nigricollis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)320-321
Publication statusPublished - 2018

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