Científicos belgas de la Universidad Libre de Bruselas (ULB) han descubierto una posible cura para la "enfermedad del sueño" (tripanosomiasis africana), dolencia provocada por la picadura de la mosca tse-tsé y que genera altas tasas de mortalidad en varios países del África subsahariana.

La investigación, recogida por la revista científica "Nature", ha revelado el comportamiento de la variedad más común del parásito que genera esta enfermedad, el tipo "gambiense", que origina el 97 % de los casos, informó el diario "Le Soir".
El equipo científico de la ULB ha descubierto cómo esta variedad del denominado parásito tripanosoma se defiende de la respuesta inmunitaria del cuerpo humano y ha encontrado una manera de contener su efectividad, si bien el antídoto sólo ha sido probado en laboratorio.
Según explica el profesor Etienne Pays, director del laboratorio de biología molecular de la ULB, al diario "Le Soir", el parásito ha mutado hasta crear una proteína específica que es capaz de protegerle de las defensas humanas.
Esta proteína es muy similar a la que provoca la enfermedad del sueño en los humanos, pero, según el equipo de investigadores, el parásito ha desarrollado un mecanismo para protegerse de su propia sustancia.
La propuesta del equipo de Pays es utilizar esta proteína que protege al parásito como medicamento entre el ganado, que no suele morir por la enfermedad del sueño pero que generalmente alberga los parásitos transferidos por la mosca tse-tsé.
Los investigadores tratarán ahora de comprobar si esta proteína es compatible con el organismo humano, para poder desarrollar un medicamento aplicable directamente a los pacientes.

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