Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

K-State researchers study insects’ immune system

02.09.2005


How insects avoid getting diseases they can carry and spread to humans is the focus of research at Kansas State University.



Mike Kanost, university distinguished professor of biochemistry and head of the department of biochemistry, and researchers in his lab are studying how insects protect themselves against infection. They think the answer lies in insects’ blood, specifically proteins.

The researchers have made progress in understanding which molecules are present in the blood and their functions. The group also has identified proteins involved in the immune response that cause melanin - a coating of black pigment - to be synthesized and deposited on the surface of the pathogen.


The goal of their research is to understand how insects recognize infection caused by microorganisms such as viruses, bacteria and fungi, and the pathway of reactions that follow in the immune system.

Studying the immune system of insects is important because it can lead to useful knowledge for the improvement of biological pesticides, Kanost said. Such a method of pest control only kills specific insects and is safe for humans.

A recent development for Kanost’s group is the transition from studying caterpillars to studying mosquitoes, which have a more direct impact on humans. Understanding how proteins in mosquitoes’ blood function in immune responses may help identify ways to disrupt disease transmission by blood-feeding insects. Knowledge gained from examining caterpillars is being used to understand the mosquito’s immune system, Kanost said.

For a mosquito to bite one human, acquire a disease and then transfer it to the next person it bites poses an interesting concept for researchers. For the disease to spread, it has to survive for a certain period of time in the mosquito. The question is, how does the pathogen survive?

For a disease like malaria, the parasite has to live in an insect’s blood for part of its life cycle, all the while exposed to the mosquito’s immune system. A successful parasite has to avoid the immune system or be able to defend against it. Understanding how a pathogen can survive might result in ways to disrupt the transmission of diseases, Kanost said.

"Insects are the most abundant kind of animal," he said. "They’re very successful animals. If you want to understand biology, understanding insects is important.

"We’re at a point now where we understand at least some of what the immune responses are but how they are regulated is a big question we need to study," Kanost said. "To me, one of the aspects that’s interesting is even if we understand the immune system of one species of insect very well, there are millions of species of insects and they’re all different from each other. Even though they will have some things in common, there’s a lot to do for many lifetimes for people doing research on biochemistry in insects."

Researchers involved with the study include Maureen Gorman, research assistant professor in biochemistry, and Chansak Suwanchaichinda and Shufei Zhuang, both postdoctoral biochemistry research associates.

K-State students taking part in the research are Ana Fraire, junior in biochemistry and pre-medicine, Liberal; and Craig Doan, sophomore in biochemistry, Rose Ochieng, senior in biochemistry and pre-medicine, and Emily Ragan, graduate student in biochemistry, all of Manhattan.

Mike Kanost | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.k-state.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht A Fluttering Accordion
04.08.2015 | Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena

nachricht Molecular Spies to Fight Cancer - Procedure for improving tumor diagnosis successfully tested
03.08.2015 | Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Greenhouse gases' millennia-long ocean legacy

Continuing current carbon dioxide (CO2) emission trends throughout this century and beyond would leave a legacy of heat and acidity in the deep ocean. These...

Im Focus: Glaciers melt faster than ever

Glacier decline in the first decade of the 21st century has reached a historical record, since the onset of direct observations. Glacier melt is a global phenomenon and will continue even without further climate change. This is shown in the latest study by the World Glacier Monitoring Service under the lead of the University of Zurich, Switzerland.

The World Glacier Monitoring Service, domiciled at the University of Zurich, has compiled worldwide data on glacier changes for more than 120 years. Together...

Im Focus: Quantum Matter Stuck in Unrest

Using ultracold atoms trapped in light crystals, scientists from the MPQ, LMU, and the Weizmann Institute observe a novel state of matter that never thermalizes.

What happens if one mixes cold and hot water? After some initial dynamics, one is left with lukewarm water—the system has thermalized to a new thermal...

Im Focus: On the crest of the wave: Electronics on a time scale shorter than a cycle of light

Physicists from Regensburg and Marburg, Germany have succeeded in taking a slow-motion movie of speeding electrons in a solid driven by a strong light wave. In the process, they have unraveled a novel quantum phenomenon, which will be reported in the forthcoming edition of Nature.

The advent of ever faster electronics featuring clock rates up to the multiple-gigahertz range has revolutionized our day-to-day life. Researchers and...

Im Focus: Superfast fluorescence sets new speed record

Plasmonic device has speed and efficiency to serve optical computers

Researchers have developed an ultrafast light-emitting device that can flip on and off 90 billion times a second and could form the basis of optical computing.

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Success 4.0 – Is Your Company Fit for the Future? New Series of Events for Executives

04.08.2015 | Event News

3rd Euro Bio-inspired - International Conference and Exhibition on Bio-inspired Materials

23.07.2015 | Event News

Clash of Realities – International Conference on the Art, Technology and Theory of Digital Games

10.07.2015 | Event News

 
Latest News

Small tilt in magnets makes them viable memory chips

04.08.2015 | Information Technology

New Design Brings World’s First Solar Battery to Performance Milestone

04.08.2015 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Magnetism at Nanoscale

04.08.2015 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>