A Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator from Albany, New York, and an HHMI international research scholar from Buenos Aires, Argentina have combined their expertise to identify two peculiar features of the protein-making machinery of the parasite that causes Chagas disease. Their findings could help scientists develop a safe and effective drug for the disease, whose cardiac complications kill up to 30 percent of those infected.
T. cruzi ribosome
Unusual turret and spire features of the small subunit of the T. cruzi ribosome.
Image: Joachim Frank Lab, Adapted from PNAS
The unusual structure of the ribosome, published online the week of July 4, 2005, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, also suggests that the parasite has a unique scanning mechanism for translating genetic information into proteins.
"This may lead the way to the discovery or development of drugs that are specific against an essential mechanism of the life of the parasite and do not affect the infected organism," said parasitologist Mariano Levin, an HHMI international research scholar at the Institute for Research on Genetic Engineering and Molecular Biology in Buenos Aires and co-author of the study.
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