Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Researchers gain ground in efforts to fight parasite infection

27.05.2009
New findings by researchers UT Southwestern Medical Center are accelerating efforts to eradicate worm infections that afflict a third of the world’s population.
The new findings, available online and in an upcoming issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, demonstrate that a biochemical system that controls development and reproduction of Caenorhabditis elegans, a common research worm, also provides the same function in several parasitic nematodes, including hookworm.

In these parasitic organisms, the activating molecule, called dafachronic acid, sends the necessary signals for the worms to mature from the stage in which they infect a host to the stage in which they start feeding on the host, which is what makes the host sick. In 2006 UT Southwestern scientists led by Dr. David Mangelsdorf, chairman of pharmacology at UT Southwestern and senior author of the new study in PNAS, had made the discovery in C elegans, a nematode about the size of a pinhead.

In the new study, the UT Southwestern researchers treated hookworm parasites pharmacologically at the infective larval stage with dafachronic acid, causing them to pass into the “feeding” larval stage outside a host, where they had no food supply and died. Treatment of other infectious species had similar effects.

“We essentially coaxed them to mature before a food source — the host — is available,” Dr. Mangelsdorf said.

Many infectious nematode larvae live in the soil, often in areas where proper sanitation is lacking. According to the World Health Organization, parasitic nematodes infect about 2 billion people worldwide and severely sicken some 300 million, at least 50 percent of whom are school-age children.

The results point to a promising therapeutic target for the infectious nematodes, said Dr. Mangelsdorf, an investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at

UT Southwestern.

“What keeps these parasites infectious is the lack of production of dafachronic acid,” he said. “Once they get inside the host, however, something switches them on to begin making this compound. We can interrupt the worm’s life cycle just by giving it this compound when it’s in the infectious state, before it enters a host.”

The nature of that switch is still under investigation. It may be that the parasite itself somehow senses it is inside the host and begins making the compound, or the parasite could receive a signal from the host to begin production, Dr. Mangelsdorf said. There also is the possibility that the parasite receives the dafachronic acid, or its precursor building blocks, from the host, he said.

Whatever the source of dafachronic acid, the researchers are confident that the compound is worth pursuing as a possible therapeutic target. In the study, the researchers present additional details about the nature of different forms of dafachronic acid and how they function in specific nematodes.

Dr. Mangelsdorf said the next step in the research is to screen large libraries of chemicals to search for compounds that behave like dafachronic acid and that could possibly be developed into pesticides that could be spread in high-infection areas.

The research study is Dr. Mangelsdorf’s inaugural publication in PNAS as a member of the National Academy of Sciences. He was elected to the organization in 2008.

Other UT Southwestern researchers involved in the study were lead author and pharmacology graduate student Zhu Wang; former graduate student Daniel Motola; Dr. Kamalesh Sharma, research scientist in internal medicine; Dr. Richard Auchus, professor of internal medicine; and Dr. Steven Kliewer, professor of molecular biology and pharmacology. Researchers from the Van Andel Research Institute, Argonne National Laboratory, George Washington University Medical Center and the University of Pennsylvania also participated.

The research was funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the National Institutes of Health, the Welch Foundation, and the Jay and Betty Van Andel Foundation.

Amanda Siegfried | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.utsouthwestern.edu

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Millions through license revenues
27.04.2017 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn

nachricht New High-Performance Center Translational Medical Engineering
26.04.2017 | Fraunhofer ITEM

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: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Fighting drug resistant tuberculosis – InfectoGnostics meets MYCO-NET² partners in Peru

28.04.2017 | Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Wireless power can drive tiny electronic devices in the GI tract

28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering

Ice cave in Transylvania yields window into region's past

28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis

28.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>