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Bacterium transforms into weapon against sleeping sickness

Scientists of the Antwerp Institute of Tropical Medicine (ITG) opened a new front against the cause of sleeping sickness. This parasite is transmitted between humans by tsetse flies. The researchers learned a bacterium living in those flies how to produce antibodies against the parasite. Application in the field is still a long way of, but the technique shows quite some promise.

Sleeping sickness is caused by trypanosomes, parasites being transmitted by the bite of a tsetse fly.

The World Health Organization estimates the yearly death toll at between 10 000 and 20 000 people. On top of that, the parasite also infects cattle, causing considerable economic loss. Many small African farmers depend on their cattle.

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