Ecuadorian biologist directs projects against Chagas disease
By Luis E. Mendoza
At Bellamaria community, Loja-Ecuador. Credits: Luis E. Mendoza, Ohio University
Despite that Chagas disease was discovered 100 years ago, there are still 8 million people who suffer from it. It is spread via contact with the feces of an insect called Trypanozoma cruzi, once the mosquito bite penetrates the human skin.
In 2005, the WHO classified Chagas disease as a neglected tropical disease. This means that it is a disease that proliferates in impoverished environments (as is the case in some rural areas of Ecuador), tropical climates and that has been historically ignored by the global health system. However, it is only in recent decades that scientific research has begun to focus on its study. "Chagas is a neglected disease and in order to close those gaps it is necessary to carry out research that generates knowledge that allows the development of better diagnoses, treatments and control strategies for the transmission" says Dr. Mario Grijalva, Director of the Center for Research on Health in Latin America.
June 26th, 2018
By Luis E. Mendoza
Research published in Journal of Nanotechnology in April 18, 2018.
The Ambrosia is a plant with mythological resonance. The legend tells us that Greek and Sumerian gods used to drink it as a source of immortality. Moreover, the indigenous peoples of the inter-Andean valley -located in what we current know as Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru- used it as part of their traditional medicine. Few people know, however, that this plant -combined with silver nanoparticles- contributes to control infectious diseases such as Dengue, Chikungunya and Zika. This is the outcome of research led by Ecuadorian biologist Bianca Morejón in the Center for Health Research in Latin America (CISeAL). This research was part of her thesis, conducted under the direction of Dr. Marco Neira.
June 8th, 2018
By Luis E. Mendoza
Ternura, 1989. Oswaldo Guayasamín.
Dr. Ana Moncayo, specialist in Public Health and Epidemiology, focuses her research on infectious diseases. She is a researcher at CISeAL and professor at PUCE. She has developed 14 investigations related to her area of specialization so far. In the following interview, Dr. Moncayo tells us how her research on soil-transmitted infections could contribute to improving programs to control these infections and the impact of these parasites on the nutritional status of almost one and a half million school-age children in Ecuador.
November 20th, 2017
Researchers at the Center for Research on Health in Latin America (CISeAL by its acronyms in Spanish) and Ohio University Infectious and Tropical Disease Institute (ITDI) recently published a study showing that nearly 570 thousand people living in Manabí province, Ecuador, are at a high risk of infection for Chagas Disease. The study, “Distribution of triatomine species in domestic and peridomestic environments in central coastal Ecuador,”  published in the PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases Journal, also demonstrates the urgent need to increase efforts to prevent and control the proliferation of Chagas in this central coastal region of Ecuador.
Chagas disease is a preventable yet neglected tropical disease that affects vulnerable populations with high levels of poverty. Infection occurs through contact with the feces of an insect known as the “kissing bug” (or Triatominae by its scientific name) carrying the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi. The WHO estimates that over 7 million people worldwide are infected with Chagas, most of them living in 21 countries in Latin America, such as Ecuador. In this South American country, there is major under reporting of cases, which hampers efforts to mobilize public officials to enact the necessary policies to prevent transmission of the disease.