VARANASI : Scientists in BHU have come up with a new way of identifying asymptomatic individuals of Kala-azar, which can be reliable and cost effective. This work was led by Senior Research Fellow Mr. Siddharth Sankar Singh under the guidance of Prof. Shyam Sundar, Distinguished Professor, Department of Medicine, Institute of Medical Sciences and Dr. Rajiv Kumar, CEMS, IMS-BHU.

The research team performed transcriptomic studies on blood samples collected from three groups of individuals (asymptomatic individuals, Kala-azar patients and healthy individuals)   living in endemic area of Kala-azar and identified a biomarker named Amphiregulin (एम्फिरेगुलिन) which will help in distinguishing asymptomatic individuals from patients with clinical symptoms of Kala-azar. This molecule Amphiregulin not only prevents inflammation and tissue damage in asymptomatic individuals but can also discriminate them from individuals with active disease. This research work has been published in the latest issue of the prestigious research journal Clinical and Translational Immunology.

Kala-azar is characterized by irregular bouts of fever, weight loss, enlargement of the spleen and liver, and anaemia. Most cases occur in Brazil, East Africa and India. An estimated 50,000 to 90,000 new cases occur worldwide annually, with only 25% to 45% reported to WHO. Asymptomatic Individuals do not show clinical symptoms but act as a sink of parasite that causes kala-azar. So it is a very interesting finding in area of Kala-azar research particularly in light of elimination program of Government of India.  The study will help in identifying asymptomatic cases and better manage the disease in endemic area.

Prof. Shyam Sundar, a leading scientist of the country, who is working in the field of Kala-azar research for the last three decades, said that he and his team are taking forward the research work keeping in mind the target of Kala-azar elimination. He added that the finding of this work is a major step in that direction.