Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Discovery shows promise as a new treatment for toxoplasmosis


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 can’t 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."

The research team, led by Professor Rima McLeod, M.D. professor of ophthalmology and visual sciences at the University of Chicago, have a found a new method for delivering medicines that kill the parasites in the active stage and a new method for delivering medicines to kill them whilst they are in the active or latent stage.

The research began in 1996 when scientists at Stanford University discovered that short chains of arginine, a naturally occurring amino acid, could pass through human and mouse biological membranes, and could carry other molecules with them.

The new finding reported here means that for the first time scientists could have a way to deliver many medications through the host cell membranes and into cysts containing toxoplasma, directly to the parasite. Professor McLeod and her team set about looking more closely at the T. Gondii organism, to find a medication that would effectively kill the parasite without being toxic to humans.

Her team discovered an enzyme, enoyl reductase, that is not the same in animals and is vital to the survival of the parasite. The research team then identified a common antiseptic, triclosan, which had been found to affect enoyl reductase in bacteria and found it could kill the parasites responsible for toxoplasmosis and malaria but delivery was problematic. Triclosan is included in toothpaste, skin creams and mouthwash.

The triclosan was linked to the arginine chains in order to get the medication through several biological membranes to the parasites in cells and to the parasites within cysts. The cysts contain the parasites in their latent form. The team found that this method successfully inhibited the active parasite in mice and in tissue culture.

Professor McLeod says, "This discovery of the transporter is quite remarkable as no current antimicrobial compound can eliminate parasites in cysts. The discovery raises the possibility of better treatments for active infection and a new approach for treating latent infection in the eye by applying a lotion containing triclosan or other antimicrobials bound to a transporter which would carry them into the eye. If such treatment could eradicate the parasite in its latent form we could stop it from recurring. New targets such as enoyl reductase may provide a major step forward in identifying better treatments for active disease that causes much suffering as well as loss of life."

Lorna Branton | alfa
Further information:

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Inflammation Triggers Unsustainable Immune Response to Chronic Viral Infection
24.10.2016 | Universität Basel

nachricht Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia
21.10.2016 | Universitätsklinikum Magdeburg

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

First-time reconstruction of infectious bat influenza viruses

25.10.2016 | Life Sciences

Novel method to benchmark and improve the performance of protein measumeasurement techniques

25.10.2016 | Life Sciences

Amazon rain helps make more rain

25.10.2016 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>