Recent Posts

The scientific challenges of Chagas disease: a chronological account based on the content of the special issues

  • 27 May 2015
The Memórias do Instituto Oswaldo Cruz publishes, in the May 2015 [110(3)] issue, the fourth special issue on Chagas Disease since 1999. In that year we commemorated the 90th anniversary of the discovery of the disease which was originally published in this journal in the August issue 1909. To answer the question about what lessons or solutions have these special issues delivered, we need to appraise the challenges that have been pointed out as relevant to the control of Chagas disease. Starting from 1999, we can define three time frames that span approximately 15 years (1999 issue), 10 years (2007…

Host parasite interaction: news from the bench!

  • 14 April 2015
Protozoan parasites are the most challenging and complex organisms that humans cells are forced to interact with. Although the infection by prokaryotes and viruses might also be complex and even disastrous for the cell, the relationship with eukaryotic parasites, especially protozoa, can be of a more troublesome nature. For more than a century we have been assisting the success story of protozoan parasites, e. g., Trypanosoma cruzi, Trypanosoma brucei gambiense, Leishmania braziliensis, Leishmania donovani and Plasmodium falciparum in their dispute with humans. Their infectious capacity has eluded our immune defences and defied all the therapeutic approaches tested so far, including…

The parasite goes away, the parasite comes back!

  • 27 February 2015
When we think about parasites, the initial image from conventional wisdom is about linear relationships between two or three organisms, usually the parasite itself, the intermediate and the final hosts. The life story of trypanosomatid parasites belonging to the genera Trypanosoma and Leishmania are archetypical of these events: they cycle back and forth through invertebrate and vertebrate hosts. The concept of a parasitic world would be less complex if the relationships between parasites and hosts were based on organisms with linear behaviour and constant physiological status, but voilá!, there come the plants and their wealth of metabolites, versatile molecules and…

The long and winding road for methods in tropical medicine and parasitic research

  • 22 December 2014
The development of technological applications in biomedical research is a fast paced field, whose rate of achievements can now be measured in weeks instead of the many years and decades necessary in the mid XX century for a novel application to be proudly announced by their discoverers. Technological innovation is so overwhelming today that one is always prone to ask where and when we will find the correct use of that technology and, most importantly, whether should we move to the new method and invest our precious time and grant money on the acquisition, training of personnel and validation through…

Humans, mosquitoes and bacteria: competition and survival through bednet holes, ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporters and interferon-Y

  • 10 November 2014
The host-parasite relationship is formally defined as an evolutionary race (Vanaerschot et al. 2014). If the Van Valen Red Queen Hypothesis (CM Lively, available from indiana.edu/~curtweb/Research/Red_Queen%20hyp.html) is not rejected in this particular case, the enrolled species is participating in an endless game between incremental improvements in their capacity to escape host defences and the need to rid themselves of the parasitic infection. This scenario leads to the concept of a zero sum game, with the exception that from a human individual perspective, devastating consequences may arise from this game between humans and parasites (e.g., disease and epidemics). Perhaps this is…

Drug Discovery, Genetic Diversity and Vector Resistance: the predictable uncertainty of Trypanosoma cruzi research

  • 06 October 2014
In ancient Greece, the Pythia, a priestess and Oracle at Delphi, was expected to speak about the future (the prophecies) on the seventh day of each month during the warmest nine months of the year. The oracle was highly regarded and respected at that time and she was frequently consulted by the kings. The king of Lydia, Croesus, asked her about the outcome of a military action against the Persians; her answer was: "If you cross the river, a great empire will be destroyed". The King then attacked the Persians and lost the war (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oracle). Was the prophecy wrong? Well,…

For the old malaria challenges, the new technologies!

  • 25 August 2014
The August 2014 issue [109(5)] of Memórias do Instituto Oswaldo Cruz is dedicated to advances in malaria research, with special attention directed toward vector control, epidemiology and the use of new technologies (e.g., proteomics and metabolomics) (Lacerda et al. 2014). This issue represents the fourth time that Memórias do Instituto Oswaldo Cruz has published a special malaria issue. When reviewing these special issues, we cannot avoid thinking of how the knowledge of malaria and related technology have changed since the first special issue was published in 1986. At that time, the technologies available for diagnosis and molecular epidemiological analysis were…

Hard and soft tools of the bacteria survival kit

  • 31 July 2014
In 1988, Günter Wäschterhäuser proposed a new theory to explain the origin of life: the theory of surface metabolism (Wäschterhäuser 1988). This theory, also known as “the iron-sulphur world”, states that the chemical reactions directed by the reducing power of iron-sulphur (Fe-S)/H2S were responsible for the catalytic events that led to the first biopolymer structures. One possible remnant of this Fe-S world is the set of Fe-S clusters present in both eukaryotic and prokaryotic proteins (Beinert 2000). Fe-S clusters participate in a wide range of molecular and biochemical reactions that bacteria rely on to control important aspects of their metabolism…

Call for new section papers: Genome Announcement and Highlights

  • 11 July 2014
Memorias do Instituto Oswaldo Cruz, the leader and centenary full open access journal of Parasitology, Tropical Medicine and Infectious Diseases in Latin America, is launching a new section for rapid scientific communication: Genome announcement and Highlights. This section is dedicated to publish new genome information from eukaryote parasites, virus, bacteria and vectors. Authors who wants a fast peer review and publication cycle for their research results covering new genome sequences, re-sequencing and comparative genome analysis as well as the expression pattern of genomes are invited to submitted papers under the short communication format. All submissions will immediately be checked out…

The Urbi et Orbi of Leishmania parasites

  • 23 May 2014
Trypanosomatids are recognised as one of the most ubiquitous groups of protozoa on Earth. Most, if not all, vertebrate and invertebrate organisms could potentially be infected by a member of the Trypanosomatidae family. Three articles published in Memórias do Instituto Oswaldo Cruz  (Cutolo et al. 2014, Samy et al. 2014, Soares et al. 2014) contributed novel information on the extensive thread of the connections established by the trypanosomatids that are the most important in public health, the members of the genus, Leishmania. Some species of Leishmania are responsible for visceral leishmaniasis (e. g., Leishmania donovani, Leishmania infantum) or cutaneous leishmaniasis…

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