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Last Updated: Monday, 6 August 2007, 16:27 GMT 17:27 UK
Scientists fight flesh-eating bug
A hand infected by Leishmaniasis
The flesh-eating disease Leishmaniasis can be fatal
University scientists in Hull and Kent are working on an improved treatment for a flesh-eating disease which is on the rise due to global warming.

Leishmaniasis is caused by a parasite transmitted in the bites of sand flies, usually found only in tropical climes.

Rising temperatures will increase the number of countries the fly colonises, the university scientists claim.

The universities are pioneering the use of photodynamic therapy, used to treat cancers, to tackle the disease.

The only other programme testing the therapy to fight the disease is at Harvard Medical School in the US.

In charge of the research at Hull is Dr Ross Boyle and his co-investigator is Dr Tim Paget at the Medway School of Pharmacy, at Chatham, Kent.

Military exposure

Due to travel and tourism, nations affected by the disease - which can be fatal - are already on the increase.

Military personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan are also exposed to the conditions associated with contracting Leishmaniasis.

It currently affects 12m people across the globe with 350m million people at risk of infection and a further 2m new cases each year.

Current treatments have unpleasant side effects, and the need for alternative methods of treatment is important because of increasing drug resistance by the parasite, the university says.

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