A multi-centre research team from the UK and the USA has discovered the first method to deliver medication directly into the encysted stage of the infectious parasites that cause toxoplasmosis and a novel target for medicines in the parasite. It has major implications for the way that we treat this devastating disease as it could lead to new medications and approaches to better tackle it. The study will be published online on November 17 by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
Toxoplasmosis is a parasitic infection from the apicomplexan family, which includes the causes of malaria and cryptosporidiosis. The disease is caused by a single celled organism called Toxoplasma gondii and is spread by cats and by eating undercooked meat. Toxoplasmosis is a common disease and can cause devastating problems for those with weakened immune systems, or when transmitted from mother to unborn child. It can lead to blindness, retardation and even death.
Professor David Rice, from the Department of Microbiology and Biotechnology at the University of Sheffield, was involved in the study. He explains, "Toxoplasma infections are especially difficult to treat because they recur. The disease operates in two stages, a proliferative stage and a latent stage. During the proliferative stage the infection can be treated, although there are many problems with available medicines, but the illness then progresses to a latent stage, where the cysts form that hold the parasites in a less active state. These cysts are untreatable as scientists cant get medication inside the cyst. The cysts eventually rupture and release proliferating parasites, which can cause a recurrence of the illness if the immune system is weakened and in those with eye disease. Such recurrences can cause severe damage to the eye and nervous system."
Lorna Branton | alfa
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