The three related species of trypanosomatids, Trypanosoma brucei, Trypanosoma cruzi, and Leishmania major, cause serious human and animal diseases, with a very high incidence and mortality rate if left untreated. There are no vaccines for these pathogens, the drugs are toxic with limited effectiveness, and drug resistance is emerging. The availability of the genome sequences of these organisms since 2005 has dramatically expanded our knowledge of their biology; however, a major obstacle has since been acknowledged: the majority of trypanosomatid genes are not found in any other organism, making it almost impossible to use homology-based methods for inferring their functions from their sequences.
Our lab is focused on the development of novel computational and experimental methods for functional and structural characterization of trypanosomatid genomes. We are also involved in the development of high-throughput methods for identification of novel chemical inhibitors of essential trypanosomatid proteins, particularly the editing complex of T. brucei. Functional characterization of some of the key trypanosomatid proteins that are involved in RNA editing is also among the major research topics of our lab.
Systems analysis of trypanosomatid genomes
Our lab is focused on the development of novel computational and experimental methods for the functional and structural characterization of trypanosomatid genomes. We use systems biology of trypanosomatid pathogens to identify key genes / pathways and determine their function.
Dynamics and developmental regulation of the editosome function in trypanosomatids
Another major research topic in our lab is the functional characterization of key trypanosomatid proteins that are involved in post-transcriptional gene regulation.
Targeting the essential pathways in trypanosomatids for drug discovery
We are involved in the development of high-throughput methods for the identification of novel chemical inhibitors of essential trypanosomatid proteins. We have identified potential inhibitors for RNA editing that kill T. brucei in vitro with a proposed mechanism of inhibition.