Health Report Lyrics

Artist: They Might Be Giants

This is the VOA Special English
Health Report.
Sleeping sickness
is a deadly disease that infects
about sixty thousand people
in Africa each year.
Now scientists in Scotland say
they may have found a new treatment.
Their findings are
in the journal Science.
Sleeping sickness is spread
by the bite of the tsetse fly.
The insect can carry a parasite
that infects the central nervous system.
First the infection causes fever,
headache, itchy skin and weakness.
Then, when the parasite enters the brain,
it causes more serious problems.
People suffer seizures
and thinking problems,
and they sleep for extended periods.
If the disease is not treated,
it almost always kills the victim.
Paul Wyatt at the Drug Discovery
for Tropical Diseases program
at the University of Dundee led the study.
He says the research identified
a weakness in the parasite.
The weakness is an enzyme called
N-myristoyl transferase, or NMT.
The parasite needs NMT to survive.
The researchers developed a mixture
of chemicals that interfered
with the performance of the enzyme.
They tried it in test tubes
containing the parasites.
As a result, the parasites
stopped reproducing.
The scientists also tested
the treatment on laboratory mice
with sleeping sickness.
They gave them the chemical compound
by mouth and say
the infection disappeared.
Now, Paul Wyatt says a drug based
on the research could be ready
for testing in humans
within eighteen months.
Currently, medicine for sleeping sickness
requires a series of injections
that are costly and painful.
Hospital stays are also needed.
And the side effects of the treatment
can be serious,
sometimes even causing death.
Francois Chappuis is a specialist
in neglected tropical diseases
with the international group
Doctors Without Borders.
He says a less costly,
easy-to-use medicine for sleeping
sickness is badly needed.
where the sleeping sickness
is still very prevalent,
such as remote areas of
some central African countries
-- which are by the way very
unstable areas -- it will be also
crucial to have simpler treatment
and obviously oral treatment
would be the best.
And that's the VOA Special English
Health Report, written by Caty Weaver.
Transcripts and MP3s of our reports
on Twitter and YouTube.
And you can join the community
at the new VOA Learning English
fan page on Facebook.
We're at VOA Learning English.
I'm Steve Ember.

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