Mycology & Tropical Eucaryotic pathogens

Team 7 of UMR D 257 Vectors – Tropical and Mediterranean Infections (VITROME)
Aix-Marseille University (AMU), Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD) – French Military Health Service (SSA)

Team leaders
  • RANQUE Stéphane CV
Team Members
  • HUTTER Sébastien
  • AZAS Nadine
  • CASANOVA Magali
  • CASSAGNE Carole
  • COHEN Anita
  • DUMETRE Aurélien
  • L’OLLIVIER Coralie
  • MARY Charles

Scientific strategy and prospects

The team V7 “Tropical eukaryotic pathogens” will focus its research on two main aspects, the epidemiology of eukaryotic pathogens in Western Africa and the discovery and development of new therapeutic compounds against eukaryotic pathogens. These approaches will include:

  1. analyzing the epidemiology and population genetics of eukaryotic (protozoa and fungi) pathogens;
  2. discovering and developing novel chemotherapeutic compounds against clinical protozoa (Leishmania, Plasmodium) and fungi from plants or chemical synthesis;

identifying new therapeutic targets against Leishmania and Plasmodium

Environmental transmission of Toxoplasma gondii in tropical areas

High prevalence of T. gondii-infections in people from tropical areas is strongly related to the persistence of the oocyst form of the parasite throughout the environment. We will investigate the presence of oocysts in water and food samples from local markets and study how T. gondii oocysts resist disinfectants and identify new processes for oocyst inactivation in water and food.

Epidemiology of human mycoses in Africa

Human mycoses are underdiagnosed in most African countries. Our team has developed an internationally recognized expertise in mycoses diagnosis and clinical fungi identification. MALDI-TOF microorganisms’ identification platforms will soon be available in a growing number of African countries. In particular the GIRAFE project (Groupement de Recherche International en Afrique sur l’Emergence, described in the Team V1 project section), which is coordinated by VITROME, will implement MALDI-TOF-based identification facilities in five Sub-Saharan African countries. We will aim to describe the epidemiology of human mycoses in African countries  and foster a major qualitative leap forward in mycoses diagnosis, which will result in a striking direct benefit for the populations that are burdened with these neglected diseases in Africa.

Environmental reservoirs of fungi of clinical importance

Whereas a growing number of studies have focused on the inter-human transmission of human mycoses, data regarding environmental sources, including animal reservoirs are relatively scarce. In line with the “One Health” approach, in collaboration with the Laboratoire Population Environnement Développement (UMR-151, Aix-Marseille Univ.– IRD), we will investigated how the clinical fungi are distributed in the environmental and in sympatric human or animal hosts.

Population genetic of tropical eukaryotic pathogens.

By applying molecular typing methods, such as Variable Number Tandem Repeats (VNTR) analysis, we will address the genetic diversity of fungi and protozoa (particularly T. gondii and P. falciparum) populations in various study sites in Africa aiming to highlight a genetic differentiation associated with geographical structures or particular epidemiological or transmission patterns and to estimate the impact of chemotherapy or vaccine-based control measures on the genetic structures of tropical eukaryotic pathogen populations.

Leishmaniasis are one of the six priority diseases of the World Health Organization research program on tropical diseases. The absence of chemoprophylaxis, the difficulties of anti-vector fight and the numerous limits of current drug treatments render the identification and/or development of new therapeutic compounds an urgent need. For this purpose, we will develop two approaches, 1) The search for new therapeutical targets involved in the programmed cell death process of Leishmania; 2) iIdentification and/or development of novel antiparasitic compounds against Leishmania sp., and P. falciparum, the last in collabration with Team 2.


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