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A Doctoral Thesis on Leishmaniasis is the winner of the 2016 Syva Award

17th March 2016

Dr. Maria Jesus Corral Caridad, of the Complutense University of Madrid, has received the SYVA Award to the Best Doctoral Thesis in Animal Health defended during 2016, endowed with 15,000 €

Syva Laboratories has announced the decision of the Evaluation Committee for the XIXth Edition of the Syva Award for Best Doctoral Thesis in Animal Health, which has been awarded to the study "Antileishmanial activity of Allicin: mechanism of action, in vitro efficacy and value in combined therapy with Amphotericin B", with a prize of 15,000 €. The award-winning thesis was authored by Dr. Maria Jesus Corral Caridad, member of the Department of Animal Health of the Veterinary Faculty of the Complutense University of Madrid, under the direction of Dr. Jose Maria Alunda. The study is an innovative approach to the treatment of leishmaniasis. Allicin is a molecule that can found in garlic. It possesses antibiotic characteristics that enhance the effects of amphotericin B (a classic treatment with high toxicity issues) whose dosage could be reduced to 25%, thus reducing those toxicity problems.



The Evaluation Committee for the XIXth Syva Award was chaired by Dr. Pedro Rubio Nistal, Professor of Infectious Diseases at the University of Leon, and composed of the professors Patrocinio Morrondo, of the University of Santiago de Compostela, Jose Bismark Poveda, of the University of Las Palmas of Gran Canaria and Esperanza Gomez-Lucia Duato, of the Complutense University of Madrid; in addition to Dr. Maria Luisa De Arriba as representative of Syva Laboratories.

Syva laboratories, in coordination with the University of Leon, grants the award to the best doctoral thesis of each year targeted at the field of Animal Health, in the specific subjects of Microbiology, Immunology, Infectious Diseases or Parasitic Diseases affecting animals. This is an award that has been presented annually since 1997 for the purpose of promoting scientific education among university students.

The ceremony awarding the Syva Award will take place on May 10th, 2016 in the Auditorium of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of Leon, located at the Vegazana Campus. As in previous editions, the award ceremony will be followed by a keynote lecture, which this year will be given by Dr. Bernard Vallat, Honorary Director General of the International Organization for Animal Health (OIE).


SUMMARY OF THE THESIS AWARDED

Leishmaniasis are diseases caused by Leishmania trypanosomatides affecting vertebrates and, in particular, dogs and humans. Visceral leishmaniasis, caused by L.donovani and L.infantum, is considered the second human parasitic disease in number of annual deaths. L.infantum is also responsible for canine leishmaniasis, a first order pathology in veterinary medicine. Moreover, dogs are the main source of the parasite for humans. In the absence of effective vaccines, the fundamental control system is chemotherapy. However, this therapy is far from ideal because of its toxicity, limited efficacy, high price, resistance and therapeutic failure. Given this scenario there is an urgent need for new safe and effective compounds.

Allicin is a molecule present in plants of the Alliaceae family. In this thesis its antiproliferative potential effect was evaluated in relation to the principal causative agents of visceral leishmaniasis. In addition, in vitro screening methods have improved for extracellular and intracellular drug agent phases. Our results have demonstrated an inhibitory effect of allicin on the multiplication of Leishmania and that its combination with amphotericin B (AmB) has synergistic effects. The results obtained in vitro were confirmed in an experimental model of visceral leishmaniasis in hamsters. These results represent the first evidence of the activity of allicin in combating infection by Leishmania. The combination of AmB + allicin reduced by more than 95% the parasite load of L.infantum. These results suggest the possibility of reducing the required monotherapy dose of AmB, decreasing its toxicity without a loss of efficacy.

In our work we have proposed a possible mechanism of action of allicin on Leishmania: allicin causes mitochondrial dysregulation of intracellular calcium provoking the death of the parasite through a process of necrosis.

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