Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Silencing signals sent by parasite could aid sleeping sickness fight

16.12.2013
A new discovery by scientists could help combat the spread of sleeping sickness

This is a microscopic image of the parasite that causes sleeping sickness.

Credit: Dr. Susan Vaughan, Oxford Brookes University

Insights into how the parasites that cause the disease are able to communicate with one another could help limit the spread of the infection.

The findings suggest that new drugs could be designed to disrupt the flow of messages sent between these infectious microorganisms.

Sleeping sickness – so named because it disrupts sleep patterns – is transmitted by the bite of the tsetse fly, and more than 69 million people in Africa are at risk of infection. Untreated, it can damage the nervous system, leading to coma, organ failure and death.

During infection, the parasites – known as African trypanosomes – multiply in the bloodstream and communicate with each other by releasing a small molecule. When levels of this molecule become sufficiently high, this acts as a signal for the parasites to stop replicating and to change into a form that can be picked up by biting flies and spread.

A team led by researchers at the University of Edinburgh were able to uncover key components of the parasites' messaging system. They used a technique known as gene silencing, to identify those genes that are used to respond to the communication signals and the mechanisms involved.

Professor Keith Matthews, of the University of Edinburgh's School of Biological Sciences, who led the research, said: "Parasites are adept at communicating with one another to promote their survival in our bodies and ensure their spread – but by manipulating their messages, new ways to combat these infections are likely to emerge."

The research, carried out in collaboration with the University of Dundee, was published in the journal Nature, and funded by the Wellcome Trust.

Catriona Kelly | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ed.ac.uk

Further reports about: Sleeping sickness Small Molecule biting flies

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Researchers track down cause of eye mobility disorder
17.04.2014 | University of Iowa

nachricht Life-style determines gut microbes
16.04.2014 | Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Siemens at the 2014 UIC ERTMS World Conference in Istanbul

01.04.2014 | Event News

AERA Meeting: German and US-American educational researchers in dialogue

28.03.2014 | Event News

WHS Regional Meeting: International experts address health challenges in Latin America

24.03.2014 | Event News

 
Latest News

Synapses – stability in transformation

17.04.2014 | Life Sciences

Surprising material could play role in saving energy

17.04.2014 | Materials Sciences

Two new species of yellow-shouldered bats endemic to the Neotropics

17.04.2014 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>