1) Evaluation of new diagnostic methods for the identification of visceral and cutaneous leishmaniasis;
2) Analysis of new natural-like compounds active against Leishmania;
3) Emerging blood protozoa in the immunocompromised patient: screening, diagnosis, monitoring and clinical management;
4) Prevalence studies for asymptomatic Leishmania infections and molecular epidemiology studies on Leishmania strains circulating in the Emilia-Romagna.
1) Evaluation of new diagnostic methods for the identification of visceral and cutaneous leishmaniasis. Different serological tests will be compared and molecular methods will be developed for the identification of Leishmania. Development of quantitative PCR for Leishmania DNA in blood.
2) Analysis of new natural-like compounds active towards Leishmania. New natural-like compounds (including chalcones, curcumin and artemisinin derivatives) will be tested on cultures of promastigotes and amastigotes of different Leishmania species to evaluate their leishmanicidal activity. For the compounds showing good antileishmanial activity, the mechanism of action will be evaluated.
3) Emerging blood protozoa in the immunocompromised patient: screening, diagnosis, monitoring and clinical management. Multicenter study for the screening and identification of systemic protozoan infections, in particular Leishmania, in immunocompromised patients, such as HIV+, transplanted patients and patients with immune-mediated diseases. The cohort of individuals that will be positive for blood protozoa will be monitored by molecular tests. Finally, several biomarkers will be evaluated to predict the evolution of Leishmania infection in immunocompromised patients.
4) Prevalence studies of asymptomatic Leishmania infection and studies of molecular epidemiology on Leishmania strains circulating in the Emilia-Romagna region. Seroepidemiological studies, molecular studies and immunological studies will be performed in order to detect asymptomatic Leishmania infection in a municipality with a high density of human cases of human leishmaniasis in the province of Bologna. Human strains circulating in the Emilia-Romagna region will be typed by multilocus microsatellte typing.