Abstract in English:The growing health disparities between the developing and the developed world call for urgent action from the scientific community. Science and technology have in the past played a vital role in improving public health. Today, with the tremendous potential of genomics and other advances in the life sciences, the contribution of science to improve public health and reduce global health disparities is more pertinent than ever before. Yet the benefits of modern medicine still have not reached millions of people in developing countries. It is crucial to recognize that science and technology can be used very effectively in partnership with public health practices in developing countries and can enhance their efficacy. The fight to improve global health needs, in addition to effective public health measures, requires rapid and efficient diagnostic tools; new vaccines and drugs, efficient delivery methods and novel approaches to therapeutics; and low-cost restoration of water, soil and other natural resources. In 2002, the University of Toronto published a report on the "Top 10 Biotechnologies for Improving Health in Developing Countries". Here we review these new and emerging biotechnologies and explore how they can be used to support the goals of developing countries in improving health.
Abstract in English:In Buenos Aires, the most crowded city of Argentina, there is a potential risk of dengue virus transmission by the mosquito Aedes aegypti during late summer. The temporal patterns of oviposition activity and abundance of breeding sites of this vector were studied in two cemeteries of the city. Between September 1998 and August 1999, we examined 142 ovitraps weekly and a total of 18,010 water-filled containers. Both study areas showed remarkable differences in the percentages of positive ovitraps (19% vs 8%) and breeding sites (18% vs 1%), but similar temporal abundance patterns. The percentage of breeding sites was higher in summer and autumn than in spring and winter, and the percentage of positive ovitraps was higher in summer than in the other three seasons. Immatures were recorded from the first week of October to the second week of July, and oviposition activity from the third week of October until the end of April. In both cemeteries and with both methodologies the highest infestation levels were registered in March (ovitraps: 41.8% and 20.6%, breeding sites: 39.2% and 3.4%). These highest abundances took place after several months with mean temperatures above 20ºC and accumulated rainfalls above 150 mm. A sharp decline in oviposition activity was observed when monthly mean temperature decreased to 16.5ºC, and no eggs were found below 14.8ºC. Seasonal fluctuation of Ae. aegypti abundances in mid-latitudes like Buenos Aires would allow reduction of the egg mosquito population through the elimination of containers during the coldest months, which are free of adults.
Abstract in English:In the course of a trip to Ecuador I had the opportunity of collecting topotypic specimens of the following nominal species of pulmonate molluscs: Biomphalaria cousini Paraense, 1966; Planorbis equatorius Cousin, 1887; P. canonicus Cousin, 1887; Lymnaea cousini Jousseaume, 1887 and P. boetzkesi Miller, 1879. Additional findings were: Helisoma trivolvis (Say, 1817), Biomphalaria peregrina (Orbigny 1835), Drepanotrema anatinum (Orbigny, 1835), D. kermatoides (Orbigny, 1835), D. lucidum (Pfeiffer, 1839), D. surinamense (Clessin, 1884), Lymnaea columella Say, 1817 and Physa acuta Draparnaud, 1805. P. boetzkesi and P. canonicus are considered junior synonyms of Gyraulus hindsianus (Dunker, 1848) and Biomphalaria peregrina (Orbigny, 1835), respectively.
Abstract in English:Despite efforts to eradicate American trypanosomiasis (AT) and Chagas disease from the Americas, there are still areas of active transmission that can eventually become a source of reinfection in previously controlled regions. Mexico could be one of those areas, where there are no formal preventive control programs despite the presence of communities infested by Triatominae bugs infected with Trypanosoma cruzi. This study explored the prevalence of T. cruzi infection in 405 habitants of 17 communities in the state of Colima, on the Pacific Mexican coast, through a seroepidemiological probabilistic survey. The results revealed a point seroprevalence of 2.4% positive for anti-T. cruzi. In addition, 2 clinical cases of chronic and 2 of acute Chagas disease were detected in the explored communities. These findings confirm the risk of active transmission of AT in Western Mexico, especially in rural and suburban communities infested with intra-domestic triatominae, where control programs should be implemented.
Abstract in English:It is well established that immunity to malaria is short-lived and is maintained by the continuous contact with the parasite. We now show that the stable transmission of malaria in Yanomami Amerindian communities maintains a degree of immunity in the exposed population capable to reduce prevalence and morbidity of malaria. We examined 508 Yanomami Amerindians living along Orinoco (407) and Mucajaí (101) rivers, on the Venezuelan and Brazilian Amazon region, respectively. At Orinoco villages, malaria was hyperendemic and presented stable transmission, while at Mucajaí villages it was mesoendemic and showed unstable transmission. The frequency of Plasmodium vivax and P. falciparum was roughly comparable in Venezuelan and Brazilian communities. Malaria presented different profiles at Orinoco and Mucajaí villages. In the former communities, malaria showed a lower prevalence (16% x 40.6%), particularly among those over 10 years old (5.2% x 34.8%), a higher frequency of asymptomatic cases (38.5% x 4.9%), and a lower frequency of cases of severe malaria (9.2% x 36.5%). Orinoco villagers also showed a higher reactivity of the immune system, measured by the frequency of splenomegaly (72.4% x 29.7%) and by the splenic index (71.4% over level 1 x 28.6), and higher prevalence (91.1% x 72.1%) and mean titer (1243 x 62) of antiplasmodial IgG antibodies, as well as a higher prevalence (77.4% x 24.7%) and mean titer (120 x 35) of antiplasmodial IgM antibodies. Our findings show that in isolated Yanomami communities the stability of malaria transmission, and the consequent continuous activation of the immune system of the exposed population, leads to the reduction of malaria prevalence and morbidity.
Abstract in English:This study aimed at implementing a Nested-polymerase chain reaction (Nested-PCR) for the molecular diagnosis of human T-cell lymphotropic virus type I/II (HTLV-I and HTLV-II) infections in peripheral blood mononuclear cells of infected subjects in Argentina. The sensitivity and specificity of the assay for the detection of regional strains were assessed by comparing them with the molecular assay of reference PCR-hybridization. The Nested-PCR detected 1 MT-2 cell (³ 8 proviral copies)/1x106 non-infected cells showing high sensitivity for provirus detection. While both molecular assays showed high specificity (100%) for HTLV-I and HTLV-II detection, the sensitivity values differed: 100% for Nested-PCR and 67% for PCR-hybridization assay. Moreover, this technique showed less sensitivity for the detection of DNA sequences of HTLV-II (33%) than for the detection of DNA sequences of HTLV-I (75%). The high sensitivity and specificity of the Nested-PCR for regional strains and its low costs indicate that this assay could replace the PCR-hybridization assay for the molecular diagnosis of HTLV-I/II infections. It will be interesting to assess the usefulness of this assay as a tool for the molecular diagnosis of HTLV-I/II infections in other developing countries. Other studies that include a greater number of samples should be conducted.
Abstract in English:Thymus regression upon stressing stimuli, such as infectious diseases, is followed by organ reconstitution, paralleling its development in ontogeny. A narrow window of thymus development was here studied, encompassing the pro-T lymphoid precursor expansion during specification stages, by the use of epidermal growth factor plus insulin (INS) in murine fetal thymus organ cultures. Aiming to disclose signaling pathways related to these stages, cultured thymus lobes had their RNA extracted, for the search of transcripts differentially expressed using RNAse protection assays and reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reactions. We found no difference that could explain INS-driven thymocyte growth, in the pattern of transcripts for death/proliferation mediators, or for a series of growth factor receptors and transcriptional regulators known as essential for thymus development. Thymocyte suspensions from cultured lobes, stained for phenotype analysis by fluorescence activated cell sorting, showed a decreased staining for Notch1 protein at cell surfaces upon INS addition. We analyzed the expression of Notch-related elements, and observed the recruitment of a specific set of transcripts simultaneous and compatible with INS-driven thymocyte growth, namely, transcripts for Notch3, for its ligand Jagged2, and for Deltex1, a mediator of a poorly characterized alternative pathway downstream of the Notch receptor.
Abstract in English:Using DNA extracted from 112 parasitised blood blots, we screened for the population marker of chloroquine resistance (CQR) pfcrt K76T in Plasmodium falciparum infections from Guyana. Pfmdr1 mutations S1034C, N1042D, and D1246Y also associated with CQR were surveyed as well in 15 isolates for which the in vitro responses to CQ were known. Results indicate that the pfcrt K76T is ubiquitous in this environment, and confirmatory sequencing of codons 72 and 76 revealed two novel allelic sequences SVMIT and RVMNT in addition to the previously identified CVMNT and SVMNT haplotypes. The frequency of the pfcrt K76T despite its presence in both CQR and CQS (chloroquine sensitive) infections measured in vivo and in vitro, suggests that it is a useful population marker in this low-transmission setting of sweeping CQR.
Abstract in English:The goal of this study was to investigate the pattern of inflammatory response induced by Lagochilascaris minor in murine experimental model. For this purpose 115 mice were given 1000-3000 L. minor infective eggs "per os" and 51 uninfected mice were considered as controls. Four hours post-inoculation (PI), 3rd stage larvae were seen passing through the mucosa of terminal ends of small intestine. Six hours PI larvae were observed as an embolus inside the portal vein and also migrating through the liver parenchyma. During the first 24 h larvae-containing eggs of L. minor were observed in the lumen of intestinal tract. Two days PI larvae were seen migrating through lung parenchyma associated with an initial neutrophilic perivasculitis. From the 13th day of this experimental study, L. minor larvae were found mainly in skeletal muscles, in the center of granulomas. Concentric fibrosis with mixed inflammatory infiltrate involved the larvae after the 47th day PI, persistently. This experimental murine study with L. minor indicated that the 3rd stage larvae penetrated via ileum-cecal mucosa reaching the liver and probably other tissues through the hematogenic via. Throughout its pathway the larvae induced a granulomatous reaction, with abundant polimorphonuclear cells.
Abstract in English:Rats and mice are among the most susceptible hosts for the helminth Capillaria hepatica. More information on the similarities and differences between the hepatic pathology presented by these two parasite hosts are needed, since they may represent good models for the study of hepatic fibrosis. Early changes are similar for both hosts and are represented by necro-inflammatory lesions around dead parasites and their eggs and diffuse and intense reactive hepatitis. Although worms remain alive longer in mice than in rats, hepatic changes are more rapidly and deeply modulated in the former, even leading to almost complete disappearance of fibrosis. As for the rats, the modulation of the focal lesions is followed by the formation of septal fibrosis, a process where fine and long fibrous septa appear connecting portal spaces and central veins in such a way as to form a final morphologic picture of cirrhosis. Hepatic functional changes usually present good correlations with the morphologic findings at the different phases of the infection evolution. Therefore C. hepatica infection in rats and mice represent two different models of hepatic fibrosis and these differences, if properly known and understood, can be explored to answer different questions regarding several aspects of hepatic fibrosis
Abstract in English:The influence of different Trypanosoma cruzi biodemes on the evolution of the infection and on the histopathological lesions of the heart and skeletal muscles, during the experimental infection of Calomys callosus, was investigated. Three groups of C. callosus were infected, respectively, with parasite strains representative of three different Biodemes: Type I (Y strain), Type II (21 SF strain), and Type III (Colombian strain). For each group, normal C. callosus were also used as controls. Marked differences have been detected in the responses of C. callosus to the infection with the three strains in this model. The strains Types I and II (Y and 21 SF) determined moderate lesions, mostly in the myocardium, with low parasitism, a rapid course, and total regression of the lesions by the 60th day of infection. Differently, Type III strain (Colombian), was more pathogenic for C. callosus and induced necrotic-inflammatory lesions in skeletal muscles and myocardium, in correspondence to intracellular parasitism. Proliferation of fibroblasts and amorphous matrix deposits, followed by interstitial fibrosis were present. Progressive regression of the inflammatory changes and collagen deposits occurred spontaneously. The progression and regression of both inflammation and fibrosis induced by the Colombian strain were further submitted to quantitative evaluation by morphometry. Results of the morphometric studies presented good correlation with the histopathological findings. The results confirm the importance of the different biodemes in the determination of tissue lesions and the peculiarities of response of C. callosus to infection with T. cruzi.
Abstract in English:This study compares smear, growth in Lowenstein-Jensen medium, and in-house polymerase chain reaction (PCR) techniques for the detection of Mycobacterium tuberculosis. A total of 72 specimens from 72 patients with clinical symptoms of tuberculosis, including 70 sputum and two bronchial aspirate samples, were tested in parallel by smear, culture, and in-house PCR techniques. From these, 48 (66.6%) were negative by the 3 methods, 2 (2.8%) were smear positive and negative by culture and in-house PCR, 11 (15.3%) were both smear and culture negative, and in-house PCR positive, 7 (9.7%) were positive by the 3 methods, 2 (2.8%) were positive by smear and culture, and negative by PCR, 2 (2.8%) were positive by culture and PCR, but smear negative. After the resolution of discrepancies in PCR results, the sensitivity and specificity for in-house PCR technique to M. tuberculosis relative to the culture, were 81.8% and 81.9%, respectively. These results confirm that this method, in-house PCR, may be a sensitive and specific technique for M. tuberculosis detection, occurring in both positive and negative smear and negative cultures.
Abstract in English:From complete mitochondrial DNA sequence of Fasciola hepatica available in Genbank, specific primers were designed for a conserved and repetitive region of this trematode. A pair of primers was used for diagnosis of infected Lymnaea columella by F. hepatica during the pre-patent period simultaneously with another pair of primers which amplified the internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region of rDNA from L. columella in a single Multiplex-PCR. The amplification generated a ladder band profile specific for F. hepatica. This profile was observed in positive molluscs at different times of infection, including adult worms from the trematode. The Multiplex-PCR technique showed to be a fast and safe tool for fascioliasis diagnosis, enabling the detection of F. hepatica miracidia in L. columella during the pre-patent period and identification of transmission areas.
Abstract in English:One of the main opportunistic fungal infections amongst immunocompromised individuals is oral candidosis, which has been found in up to 90% of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected patients. This study employed yeasts isolated from the saliva and oral cavities of 114 HIV-infected patients living in Campinas, São Paulo. Of the isolates, 57.8% were identified as Candida albicans and 42.1% as non-C. albicans. The latter isolates were subsequently identified as C. krusei (7.5%), C. lusitaniae (5.2%), C. tropicalis (4.6%), C. parapsilosis (4.6%), C. glabrata (2.8%), C. kefyr (1.7%), C. guilliermondii (1.7%), C. intermedia (1.1%), C. norvegensis (0.5%), and Rhodotorula rubra (1.7%). Susceptibility of the isolates to amphotericin B, fluconazole, miconazole, and itraconazole was also determined by a microdilution method adopted by the National Committee for Clinical Laboratory Standards. The isolates demonstrated various susceptibilities to the antifungal agents. In particular 29 C. albicans and 13 non-C. albicans isolates showed low susceptibility to FLCZ (> 64 µg/ml). This study revealed huge diversity of Candida species, in particular the increasing emergence of non-C. albicans associated with the oral flora of HIV-infected patients.
Abstract in English:Three different interventions to control Triatoma dimidiata in the State of Veracruz were implemented: X-1 = whole dwelling spraying, X-2 = middle wall spraying, X-3 = household cleaning. Cyfluthrin was sprayed 3 times with 8 month intervals. After each spraying, insects were collected and sent to the laboratory to be recorded and to determine genus and species of the adult triatomine bugs, and nymphs were counted. Trypanosoma cruzi presence was determined. With X-1, the infestation, colonization, and natural infection indexes were reduced to 0% in the 3 localities, with respect to t0. With X-2, the infestation index was reduced to 10% at t3 in 3 localities; the colonization index was reduced to 0% in only 1 locality at t3, and the natural infection index was reduced to 0% at t3. With X-3 the 3 indexes were not effectively reduced but they decreased with respect to the baseline study. Insecticide application to the whole dwelling is a more efficient intervention than its application to only the lower half of the walls and to the cleaning of houses.