Recent Posts

Long Time No See: parasites finally under the spotlight of the Nobel Prize in Medicine!

  • 15 October 2015
The Memórias do Instituto Oswaldo Cruz has welcomed the news about the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine that has been awarded to three researchers for their work on the development of antiparasitic drugs (nobelprize.org). The 2015 Nobel laureates are Dr William C Campbell and Dr Satoshi Ōmura, for the discovery and development of avermectin/ivermectin (an antifilariasis drug), and the Chinese researcher Dr Youyou Tu, the first woman in China to be a Nobel laureate, for her discovery of artemisinin, the drug that nowadays is the last line of defense against the Plasmodium species that cause human malaria. Since the…

Memórias and the Journal Citation Reports

  • 31 August 2015
We, as many other journal editors, have been looking at the recent release of the 2014 Journal Citation Reports by Thompson-Reuters. The results for the Memórias do Instituto Oswaldo Cruz have again been gratifying; our two-year impact factor has increased to 1.592 while the Memórias is one of the few Latin American journals with a five-year impact factor above 2.0. The other indices released by Thomson-Reuters have provided even more impressive news for the Memórias. The journal continues not only to be the most highly cited scientific periodical (with 5,899 citations in 2014), but also has the highest Eigenfactor score (0.086) of any Latin American…

Emerging viruses and the “me too” of a ubiquitous trypanosome

  • 07 July 2015
One of the tasks most demanded of today's biologists (and sometimes also part of their technological dreams) is to quickly identify a new microorganism and give it a precise taxonomic status. In our current surfeit of molecular methods and sophisticated instruments this seems to be a simple task, such as one might assign to undergraduate students as home work for the next lab class. This is the perfect world advertised by manufacturers of the myriad of devices and kits that promise an unequivocal identification for any microorganism. However the scientific literature reveals a more complex picture which is not as…

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…

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