African sleeping sickness research provides insights into diabetes

By Peter Kent

Researcher performing tests in labA single-celled parasite called Trypanosoma brucei causes African sleeping sickness and kills both humans and cattle. It causes more deaths than HIV/AIDS in some areas of Africa and is considered an uncontrolled disease by the World Health Organization.

Research by genetics scientist Jim Morris is pointing a way to control the disease. His research is based on the fact that the parasite depends on its host’s blood sugar, or glucose, to survive.

Breaking the pathway by which the parasite uses glucose can help rid Africa of a disease that has prevented vast regions from being farmed. His studies also found new uses for already approved medications that can lower the cost of treating the disease.

“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,” Morris said. His research also may help scientists uncover ways to control blood-sugar levels in people with diabetes.

For information: Jim Morris, 864-656-0293,