New Delhi: Scientists at the University of Toronto Mississauga are working to find a novel way to stop the transmission of the illness, known as Chagas’ disease. "This is a disease of the poor. The bugs are found in makeshift homes with mud walls and palm tree-like ceilings," said Jean-Paul Paluzzi, a PhD candidate in biology at the University of Toronto Mississauga.
For the insect, the real prize in its meal is the red blood cells, while the water and salt is "excess baggage". After they feed, the bugs are bloated and sluggish, and must jettison the waste so they can make their escape. When the kissing bug finds a snoozing victim and feeds, its levels of serotonin and diuretic hormones rise sharply, targeting the insect’s midgut and Malpighian tubules (the equivalent of kidneys), and triggering the release of waste. About four hours later, a peptide named CAP2b is released in the insect’s gut, abolishing the effect of the diuretic hormones. Paluzzi has identified two genes that carry the chemical recipe for the peptides that stop diuresis. With that information, he hopes to create a peptide ‘agonist’- something that would enhance the activity of the CAP2B peptide and prevent the insect from leaving waste (and the parasite) on the wound. In theory, says Paluzzi, this might be an insecticide-like room spray or topical lotion that is biologically stable and has no effect on humans or other insects. ANI
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