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PLOS BLOGS Speaking of Medicine and Health

This Week in PLOS NTDs and PLOS Pathogens: Recognizing Podoconiosis Pioneers, A Vizualized Protozoan Life-Cycle, Antivirulence Therapy Vs. Antibiotics and More

The following new articles are publishing this week in PLOS NTDs:

Tong S, Zhu X, Li Y, Shi M, Zhang J, et al. (2013). PLoS Pathog 9(10): e1003657. doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1003657
Tong S, Zhu X, Li Y, Shi M, Zhang J, et al. (2013). PLoS Pathog 9(10): e1003657. doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1003657

Kebede Deribe and colleagues pay tribute to the contributions of Ernest Price and Gail Davey who defined and redefined podoconiosis, documented its burden and raised the international profile of the disease. Their work demonstrates the impact of ten years of community-oriented, intervention-linked research that brought the disease to light from a decade-long “dark age” to become a global public health topic recognized by the WHO.

The past 15 years have seen Rhodesian sleeping sickness spread into new areas of Uganda, a situation linked to the movements of infected, untreated livestock that act as reservoirs. Using statistical analysis focusing on environmental factors such as elevation, land cover and more, Nikola Wardrop and colleagues examined the spatial spread of sleeping sickness after its introduction into a new area.

Pharmacognosy takes advantage of the rich source of compounds produced by plants, selecting and processing natural products for medicinal use. Valeria Sülsen and colleagues report here on their chemical compounds called sesquiterpene lactones, obtained from plants of the Asteraceae family, which have anti-protozoan activity against different parasite stages and could be useful treatments for Chagas and leishmaniasis.

The following new articles are publishing in PLOS Pathogens this week:

Studies have shown that students understand and remember cell biology information better when teaching materials included 3D animations. Based on the current understanding of the Leishmania life cycle, Wanderley de Souza and colleagues describe a new teaching approach, with modern schemes and dynamic models including 3D animations, to explain the early phases of the protozoan life cycle to a broad audience.

The use of antibiotics in animal production is problematic for a variety of reasons. Tom Defoirdt discusses an alternative approach termed antivirulence therapy. It is based on interference with specific virulence factors or with regulatory mechanisms that control the expression of multiple virulence factors. He argues that further development of this novel approach holds great potential for the control of terrestrial and aquatic animal pathogens.

Using two different mouse models of nematode diseases, Helena Helmby and colleagues find that IL-22, a cytokine important in the defense against bacterial infections in the intestinal tract, also plays a key role in anti-helminth immunity. IL-22 is necessary for activation of the goblet cells in the gut whose mucosal defense mechanisms mediate the expulsion of intestinal worms.



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