Leishmaniasis Discovery by Elizabeth Sharlow and John Lazo

February 21, 2014 by zrb8mf@virginia.edu

Pharmacology Faculty Elizabeth Sharlow and John Lazo, in collaboration with the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, made an important discovery that the arthritis drug Auranofin is an effective treatment for the cutaneous form of leishmaniasis. Leishmaniasis is a Neglected Tropical Disease caused by a parasite and transmitted to humans by the bite of sandflies. It most commonly presents in humans as cutaneous leishmaniasis, which causes skin sores, and visceral leishmaniasis, which affects several internal organs (usually spleen, liver, and bone marrow) and can be fatal. The discovery that Auranofin, an existing gold-based Arthritis drug therapy, is toxic to the microscopic parasite that causes leishmaniasis is significant because the existing treatments are unreliable and not always effective. Leishmaniasis “is one of the most neglected of the neglected diseases,” said Elizabeth R. Sharlow, PhD, the lead author of a new paper outlining the discovery, which appears in ACS Chemical Biology.

Dr. Sharlow was interviewed by CBS19 news and by Josh Barney for an interesting article: A Golden Cure for the Bagdad Boil that Afflicts Millions.