Sleeping sickness caused by trypanosoma brucei can be transmitted to other people or animals through by tsetse flies. According to a new research paper published on the open-access journal Microbial Cell Factories by BioMed Central on February 15, 2012, researchers use a kind of single domain antibody released by tsetse flies under natural environment to defense against these trypanosomata, which means that this kind of single domain antibody play a similar role as Trojan horses. They are the first step in making specific single domain antibodies that can kill or stunt the growth of trypanosomata.

Sleeping sickness threatens millions of lives living in sub-Saharan Africa. In the first stage (hemolymph stage) of trypanosoma brucei infection, its symptoms are fever, headache, joint pain and itching. After this parasite infection across the BBB and enters the second stage (nerves stage), it leads to thoughts confusion, poor coordination and sleep disorders. This disease is fatal without timely treatment. The diagnosis and treatment of this disease, however, are not easy. Only those who have received special training can handle. After infected by trypanosome, bovines can be anemic and may even die from anemia. The comprehensive conclusion is that trypanosomata have brought serious negative effect to public health and agricultural development throughout the African continent.

Sodalis glossinidius are internal symbiotic bacteria that are similar to beneficial bacteria settled in our intestine. Theycan be found in the midgut, muscle, fat and salivary glands of tsetse flies. As female tsetse will pass these bacteria to their offsprings, the genetically modified bacteria should be able to pass down from one generation to another once these female flies are released in the wild.

Professor Van Den Abbeele, an expert from Antwerp Institute of Tropical Diseases, explained, “When we study live trypanosomes inside the simulated intestine of tsetse, we found that these genetically modified bacterium expressed single domain antibodies have biological activity and can bind to the entire surface of the parasite. Since we know that this technology is effective, we are now studying these single domain antibodies that can damage or block the development of this type of parasites in tsetse intestine. “

Epidemic Sleeping sickness of these years first appeared in the 1970s. Although we have been trying to decline the number of new cases in the past 10 years, this disease has not yet been eradicated. This new technology gives people hope to fight against this devastating disease.