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Luísa Figueiredo Lab
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The core of parasitism is the ability of an organism to exploit its host, which may increase reproductive success of the parasite, usually by enhancing its transmission efficiency. Sleeping sickness, or Human African Trypanosomiasis, is a fatal neglected disease caused by a unicellular parasite, Trypanosoma brucei, which is responsible for 20,000 deaths and 300,000 new cases every year in Sub-Saharan Africa. T. brucei relies on sophisticated mechanisms such as antigenic variation and cell differentiation to overcome the host immune system and to ensure its transmission to a new host, respectively. Importantly, in chronic stages of the disease T. brucei interferes with the host sleep pattern, justifying the name of sleeping sickness disease. Efficient parasitism relies therefore on a cross-talk between parasite, host and environment. These interactions have phenotypic consequences for both the parasite and the host, which at the molecular level are translated by a tight control of gene expression. In our group, we use genetic, biochemical and molecular approaches to study these interactions.

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