Leishmaniasis is a disease causing approximately 40,000 deaths per year, mostly in the Asian subcontinent. The disease is caused by parasites, which are spread by the bite of the sandfly. The disease is treatable via the administration of drugs, but there are signs of increasing drug resistance in the parasite population. Researchers from the Illingworth Group have contributed to a new paper exploring the causes of this drug resistance.
In an evolutionary experiment, leishmania parasites were grown under conditions of increasing drug concentration. Changes arising in the parasites as they adapted were then studied. Tim Freeman, at the time an undergraduate student in the Department of Genetics on a BBSRC Research Experience Placement, worked to identify changes in the genomic composition of parasites that could be attributed to the effect of selection, caused by the presence of the drug.