Trypanosoma cruzi trans-sialidase as a drug target against Chagas disease (American trypanosomiasis)

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Chagas disease (or American trypanosomiasis) is a deadly tropical disease that affects millions of people worldwide, primarily in rural regions of South America. Trypanosoma cruzi, the parasitic cause of Chagas disease, possesses a membrane-anchored trans-sialidase enzyme that transfers sialic acids from the host cell surface to the parasitic cell surface, allowing T. cruzi to effectively evade the host‘s immune system. This enzyme has no analogous human counterpart and thus has become an interesting drug target to combat the parasite. Recent computational efforts have improved our knowledge about the enzyme‘s structure, dynamics and catalyzed reaction. Many compounds have been tested against trans-sialidase activity, but no strong inhibitors have been identified yet. The current lack of drugs for Chagas disease necessitates more R&D into the design and discovery of strong inhibitors of T. cruzi trans-sialidase.

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