A group of scientists from the Carlos III Health Institute, working for the Center for Research in Tropical Diseases (RICET) of this center, have identified biomarkers that allow us to observe how the Chagas disease to the patient's organs (in each person the evolution is different) to determine when the treatment should be established, as well as to detect variations in the amount of antibodies present in the blood of the affected, to check whether the treatment is effective or not.
Chagas disease is a pathology caused by a parasite, the Trypanosoma cruzi, which is endemic to certain areas of South America, and is characterized by being asymptomatic for many years, which makes its diagnosis and treatment difficult. In the long term, it can cause serious damage to the heart and alterations in the digestive system, among other disorders. It affects around 15 million people in the world and, in our country, could exceed 60,000 affected because emigrants from Latin America can be carriers of the parasite and, in addition, pregnant patients transmit it to their parents. babies.
The new biomarkers allow detecting the level of antibodies in the disease, both to identify patients susceptible to receive treatment, and to check whether the drugs have achieved their objective
The main problem posed by the management of this disease is that it is impossible for the doctor to know if the parasite is latent at the time of diagnosis or if it is already causing damage to the patient's tissues. In addition, the drugs that are currently used to treat this condition are toxic and have numerous side effects, and the doctor does not have mechanisms to find out if the treatment is proving effective.
With the biomarkers discovered thanks to the research of Spanish scientists, whose data have already been published in Clinical and Vaccine Immunology Y BMC Infectious Diseases, the level of antibodies to the disease can be detected, both to identify patients susceptible to receiving treatment, to avoid administering drugs to those who do not need it, and to check whether the drugs have achieved their objective and the disease is remitting.
Now it is necessary to develop a system that allows the use of these biomarkers in patients and, through a simple analysis, determine the level of antibodies in their blood, to select patients who need treatment, which would help to minimize the damage caused by the Chagas disease in the long term, also decreasing health costs, in addition to stopping the spread of this disease and preventing its transmission from mothers to children.