Researcher searches for treatment of African Sleeping Sickness

Image depicts Jim Morris.The African trypanosome, Trypanosoma brucei, is the single-celled parasite that causes the devastating diseases African sleeping sickness in man and nagana in cattle. Trypanosomiasis causes greater mortality than HIV/AIDS in some areas of Africa and is currently considered an uncontrolled disease by the World Health Organization. A Clemson researcher’s work is pointing a way to control African sleeping sickness and provide insights into diseases such as diabetes.

Jim Morris’s lab has found that the parasite the causes sleeping sickness in Africa and a similar disease in South America depends on its host’s glucose or blood sugar to survive. Breaking the pathway by which the parasite uses glucose can help rid Africa of a disease that prevented vast regions from being farmed. Morris’s work also found new uses for already approved drugs, which can lower the cost of treatment.

Morris notes that as global climate changes occur, it is important that we understand and be prepared to confront diseases that in the past have been confined to tropical areas.  For more information, contact Jim Morris at 864-656-0293, jmorri2@clemson.edu.