30/01/2016 09h50 - Updated 30/01/2016 09h50

Amazon Fiocruz researchers deciphered disease-causing known as “river blindness”

Disease is transmitted by insects like black flies or gnats.
Photo: reproduction
Photo: reproduction

Um estudo realizado por pesquisadores do Instituto Leônidas e Maria Deane do Instituto Oswaldo Cruz (IOC/Fiocruz), in Rio de Janeiro, identificou o genoma mitocondrial do parasito causador da oncocercose no Brasil. A oncocercose é uma doença conhecida como ‘cegueira dos riosporque é transmitida por insetos popularmente chamados de piuns ou borrachudos. O estudo foi publicado na edição de janeiro da revista científica ‘Memórias do Instituto Oswaldo Cruze pode ser acessado aqui.
De acordo com os pesquisadores, além de expandir o conhecimento científico, a decodificação do DNA mitocondrial deste patógeno pode contribuir para os esforços de combate à doença. “O sequenciamento do mitogenoma revelou a existência de polimorfismos (variedades genéticas) que abrem portas para estudos populacionais sobre o O. volvulus. Isso pode ser útil para o direcionamento mais efetivo das intervenções tanto na África quanto na América Latina”, afirmou o parasitologista Sergio Luz, coordenador do estudo e diretor da Fiocruz-Amazônia.
Presente em 31 países africanos, a oncocercose já foi eliminada de alguns países das Américas, mas ainda ocorre em uma área isolada da floresta amazônica, no Território Indígena Yanomami, na fronteira entre o Brasil e a Venezuela. O trabalho é o sequenciamento do primeiro O. volvulusisolado fora da África. A filária analisada no estudo foi obtida a partir da biópsia da pele de um paciente infectado nesta região.

Para decifrar o mitogenoma da filária O. volvulus do Brasil, os cientistas utilizaram uma combinação de tecnologias, incluindo técnicas clássicas de sequenciamento genético e métodos modernos disponíveis na Plataforma de Sequenciamento de Alto Desempenho da Fiocruz.

With 99% dos pacientes infectados vivendo em países africanos, a oncocercose faz parte do grupo de doenças classificadas pela OMS como negligenciadas. Last year, o agravo ganhou os holofotes quando os cientistas William Campbell, da Irlanda, e Satoshi Omura, do Japão, receberam o Prêmio Nobel de Medicina pelas descobertas que levaram ao desenvolvimento da ivermectina.

O medicamento é o único tratamento eficaz contra a oncocercose e a filariose linfática, outra verminose que afeta países pobres e em desenvolvimento. Para a cura dos pacientes, são recomendados 10 a 15 anos de tratamento, com doses anuais do remédio. Embora demorada, a terapia reduz consideravelmente os danos causados pela doença e é a principal estratégia para interromper o ciclo de transmissão do agravo.

Os sintomas da doença são coceira, lesões na pele e formação de nódulos sob a pele. Algumas pessoas infectadas também sofrem danos oculares, com prejuízo da visão e, nos casos mais graves, cegueira.

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