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 No chance for house dust mites
06.05.2015 | Hohenstein Institute

nachricht Expedition Genomics Lab: the mobile revolution in genetic analysis
06.05.2015 | MUSE Museo delle Scienze

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Spray drying the precision particle under the virtual magnifying glass

Spray drying is a common manufacturing process, used in the production of ceramic granulate for technical components or dental prostheses as well as dissolvable medicinal substances, food additives and in the processing of milk into powder. Using computer simulation methodology developed by scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute for Mechanics of Materials IWM, a more comprehensible understanding can now be gained of the behavior of particles in solvent during the spray drying process. This allows powder and granulate manufacturers to specifically adjust the properties of their products while reducing waste.

Previously, it was unusual for granule and powder producers to use granulation simulations to improve their products. For new product development or process...

Im Focus: The random raman laser: A new light source for the microcosmos

Texas A&M University researchers demonstrate how a narrow-band strobe light source for speckle-free imaging has the potential to reveal microscopic forms of life

In modern microscope imaging techniques, lasers are used as light sources because they can deliver fast pulsed and extremely high-intensity radiation to a...

Im Focus: Pulsar with widest orbit ever detected

Discovered by high school research team

A team of highly determined high school students discovered a never-before-seen pulsar by painstakingly analyzing data from the National Science Foundation's...

Im Focus: Erosion, landslides and monsoon across the Himalaya

Scientists from Nepal, Switzerland and Germany was now able to show how erosion processes caused by the monsoon are mirrored in the sediment load of a river crossing the Himalaya.

In these days, it was again tragically demonstrated that the Himalayas are one of the most active geodynamic regions of the world. Landslides belong to the...

Im Focus: Through the galaxy by taxi - The Dream Chaser Space Utility Vehicle

A world-class prime systems integrator and electronic systems provider known for its rapid, innovative, and agile technology solutions, Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) is currently developing a new space transportation system called the Dream Chaser.

The ultimate aim is to construct a multi-mission-capable space utility vehicle, while accelerating the overall development process for this critical capability...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Green Summit 2015: the summit of the essential

05.05.2015 | Event News

HHL Energy Conference on May 11/12, 2015: Students Discuss about Decentralized Energy

23.04.2015 | Event News

“Developing our cities, preserving our planet”: Nobel Laureates gather for the first time in Asia

23.04.2015 | Event News

 
Latest News

Expedition Genomics Lab: the mobile revolution in genetic analysis

06.05.2015 | Life Sciences

How noise changes the way the brain gets information

06.05.2015 | Life Sciences

A model approach for sustainable phosphorus recovery from wastewater

06.05.2015 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>