Project ESR10: Cultural consensus and bioprospecting for anti-Chagas medicinal plants in Bolivia

PhD Fellow: Andrea Salm

Supervision: Prof. Jürg Gertsch

Host Institution: Institute of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine, University of Bern.

Co-supervisors:  Prof. Alberto Giménez Turba and Prof. Giovanna Rocio Almanza Vega, Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, Universidad Mayor de San Andres, Bolivia

This project will use quantitative ethnobotanical and cultural consensus analysis to direct screening for novel anti-Chagas and immunomodulatory principles from traditional pharmacopoeias in Bolivia.

About the project
It is estimated that about 7 to 8 million people are infected with Trypanosoma cruzi (the parasite that causes Chagas disease) worldwide, mostly in Latin America. Since pre-Columbian times the different ethnic groups in Bolivia have used anti-Chagas plant taxa to control the disease, but quantitative data on the efficacy of the traditional remedies are widely lacking.

The objective of the project is to study the cultural consensus on the efficacy of medicinal plants for the treatment or management of Chagas using comparative ethnobotanical methodologies and focused fieldwork. Plant material will be screened in vitro for anti-trypanosomal and immunomodulatory effects. This study may provide novel lead structures and insights, to help the design of new anti-Chagas therapeutic strategies.

Duration: 3 years – start March 1st 2014.