Recent Posts

In-house methods: do they still have a place in the modern laboratory?

  • 23 February 2016
To answer the question above we first need to identify the kind of laboratory we are talking about. For the typical diagnostic laboratory, the answer is no! Rigorous quality control standards demand that the methods used in the routine procedures must be thoroughly tested and validated before being used in any diagnostic test. Considering that this kind of laboratory already has a heavy workload of daily diagnostic tests, it is not cost-effective to develop in-house diagnostic procedures. In addition to these technical issues, there are the extensive and complicated regulatory standards imposed by governmental agencies in order to protect the…

Directly from the host: the road map for Onchocerca mitochondrial DNA analysis in Amazonian samples.

  • 21 January 2016
The eukaryotic life story cannot be fully reported without reference to the mitochondrion. After a bacterial origin for the mitochondrion was proposed (Margulis 1970), this organelle became one of the tools for a better understanding of eukaryotic evolution. The impact of this symbiotic relationship was enormous for the evolution of life on earth, offering the organisms that have such a “chemical powerhouse” an evolutionary novelty to deal with the complex activities required for survival in an unstable and competitive environment. For some eukaryotic parasites, the mitochondrion is not always necessary. For instance, in the parasitic protozoa Trypanosoma brucei equiperdum and…

Noncanonical science reports: to whom and what for?

  • 15 December 2015
Scientific knowledge advances by a continuous cycle of hypothesis formulation and testing, whose ultimate goal is to provide society with facts, evidence, and rigorous statements on natural phenomena. Sometimes, serendipitous and discovery research findings can accelerate the scientific pace, which has also gained impulse by technological breakthroughs starting in the middle of XX century. The result of this process is a collective intellectual effort that both consolidates concepts (the canons) and refutes them when unexplained phenomena arise (revolutions, anti-canons). In a broad sense, especially in fields other than science, a canon may define a knowledge body that has been approved…

Protozoa parasites: mind the gap!

  • 18 November 2015
From a minimal and simplified viewpoint, life is a succession of events leading to transmission of genes from parents to offspring. For certain organisms, like protozoan parasites, these events must include a meeting with someone else: another eukaryote to act as an invertebrate or vertebrate host and occasionally a human host. To get a successful gene transmission, parasites must have a positive outcome of the infection event (or series of events, as the infection for some parasites means a complex cycle between two or more hosts). But infection does not represent a one way event: it is a disruptive phenomenon,…

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 ( 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…

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