"Leishmaniasis is a parasitic disease transmitted through the bite of a small fly that greatly affects Colombians and Latin Americans. Throughout the world, more than 12 million people are affected by this disease, mostly in underprivileged regions and in places where there is little access to medical care; there is presently no vaccine against this disease and the therapeutic options are unacceptably toxic and yield very unsuccessful results. Many of those affected are women and children and the ulcers and scars caused by this disease lead to psychological stigmas which severely impact on their intellectual and economic development.
This innovative young woman who heads the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Unit of the International Training and Medical Research Center (CIDEIM), has discovered some of the factors which may contribute to the success or failure of the treatment of this disease with usual drugs.
Furthermore, by addressing the main challenges in the treatment –resistance to drugs and their low efficacy– she has established a new approach to predict whether drugs will be effective or not in each patient, which will provide for a direct analysis and generate customized therapies. This way, it will be possible to improve results in the treatment of the disease and at the same time use available drugs in a more rational way, by prescribing them only to individuals that respond to them.
These methodologies are usually applied to diseases that mainly affect populations of developed nations such as chronic or degenerative diseases or cancer, and they usually exclude ""neglected"" diseases.
The new approach established by Maria Adelaida, which elevates other diseases such as tuberculosis and malaria above leishmaniasis, will lay the foundations for devising improved therapeutic strategies which have a significant impact in developing countries."