NIH Awards Read $1.6 Million to Study RNA Editing in T. Brucei

Laurie K. Read, PhD.

Laurie K. Read, PhD

Published November 8, 2012 This content is archived.

Story by Alexandra Edelblute

Laurie K. Read, PhD, professor of microbiology and immunology, has won a four-year, $1.6 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to study the mechanisms and regulation of RNA editing in the parasite responsible for African sleeping sickness.

Potential Target for New Chemotherapeutics


The study, funded through the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, seeks to understand the molecular mechanisms of uridine insertion/deletion RNA editing in the kinetoplastid parasite Trypanosoma brucei.

This process, unique to T. brucei, does not occur in its human hosts, making it a promising target for the development of new chemotherapeutic agents, Read explains.

Existing Drugs for Kinetoplastid Diseases Costly, Toxic

Read’s research may facilitate drug development and further treatment of diseases caused by kinetoplastid parasites, including African sleeping sickness, an illness endemic to sub-Saharan Africa that is fatal if left untreated.

Existing treatments are “antiquated, expensive, difficult to administer and, often, highly toxic,” Read says. What’s more, the parasite is developing resistance to the drugs, she adds.

Andrew Bruno and Zihua Hu, PhD, both with UB’s Center for Computational Research are collaborating on the project.