Their findings about Toxoplasma gondii and toxoplasmosis were published recently in three major scientific journals. Nature published a paper Dec. 20 in its advanced online version. Science published a paper on Dec. 15 and PLoS Pathogens on Oct. 27.
"It's not often you get such a cluster of papers coming out," said Michael White, one of the authors and an MSU professor of veterinary molecular biology. He added that MSU researchers will have another opportunity to explain the studies when they host an international conference on toxoplasmosis from June 29-July 2 at Chico Hot Springs.
Toxoplasmosis is normally associated with medical advice that pregnant women avoid changing cat litter, but it's gaining new attention because of the AIDS epidemic and bioterrorism, the researchers said. Severe toxoplasmosis can cause AIDS patients to go into a deep dementia and become unconscious of their surroundings.
"It's one of the worst syndromes an AIDS patient can die from," said Jay Radke, another of the MSU authors.
Toxoplasmosis is a disease caused by the parasite Toxoplasma gondii. Symptoms usually appear only in people with weakened immune systems, but on rare occasions, healthy people suffer serious eye and central nervous system problems from toxoplasmosis. Their babies can have birth defects. White said toxoplasmosis also may be linked to some cases of schizophrenia and bipolar disease. It can kill livestock and has devastated efforts to restore sea otters near Monterey, Calif. Because it's common, yet complex, toxoplasmosis is a potential weapon for bioterrorists.
People usually acquire toxoplasmosis by eating commercial meat or drinking water that's contaminated with Toxoplasma gondii, White said. They can also pick it up by handling soil or anything that has come in contact with cat feces.
"It's a complex cell just likes ours in terms of metabolism and biochemistry, which makes it a tough nut to crack," White said.
The recently-published studies show that molecular interactions between the parasite and host directly regulate the disease's severity, White said. Genes from the parasite also disrupt signals in the host's immune system and control the establishment of life-long chronic disease.
Genetic crosses produced at MSU were critical in the study that discovered that the parasite dumps a protein into the host to dramatically regulate its immune response, White said. Labs in MSU's Department of Veterinary Molecular Biology and MSU's microarray facility helped establish the role of a second pathogen protein that makes one strain of Toxoplasma especially dangerous.
"Type I strains are extremely important to human medicine as they are disproportionately responsible for inflammation of the brain in AIDS patients and for severe congenital disease that is passed from mother to baby," White said.
MSU led the study that was published in PloS, White said. MSU made major contributions to the Nature and Science papers which were collaborations with Stanford University and Washington University in St. Louis.
The studies give other scientists a model for studying toxoplasmosis or related diseases like malaria and Eimeria, which causes coccidiosis, White added. Eimeria parasites kill chickens and other commercially-raised animals like cattle.
A press release from Washington University said researchers in the future will try to develop more effective treatments against toxoplasmosis by blocking ROP18, the gene largely responsible for making toxoplasmosis so dangerous to humans. The Toxoplasma gondii parasite has approximately 6,000 genes in all. Scientists will also look for other genes that work together with ROP18.
Michael White | EurekAlert!
Researchers reveal new details on aged brain, Alzheimer's and dementia
21.11.2017 | Allen Institute
Nanoparticles help with malaria diagnosis – new rapid test in development
21.11.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Silicatforschung ISC
The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.
Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....
The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.
Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...
Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.
That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...
Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.
During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....
The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.
Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...
15.11.2017 | Event News
15.11.2017 | Event News
30.10.2017 | Event News
21.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
21.11.2017 | Materials Sciences
21.11.2017 | Health and Medicine