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Indiana U scientists uncover potential key to better drugs to fight toxoplasmosis parasite
Date:6/18/2008

ed vision and seizures. Also, infants born to mothers who are infected during or shortly before pregnancy are at risk for severe complications, miscarriages or stillbirths.

Medications to treat Toxoplasma gondii are effective but too toxic for extended use, and they don't affect the cyst form, said Dr. Sullivan.

"A healthy immune system can keep this parasite in the cyst state. Without a healthy immune system, this organism can run rampant," said Dr. Sullivan. "This can be a very serious problem for people with AIDS."

The discovery linking this stress-response mechanism to cyst formation and maintenance not only offers a possible target for new drugs, but it could also lead to a preventative vaccine for animals.

The Toxoplasma gondii parasite can infect most animals and birds, but it reproduces in cats, which can shed the parasite in their feces. Humans can be infected through contact with the infected feces or litter. People can also become infected by consuming undercooked meat.

A vaccine to prevent infection in cats and livestock could prevent a significant proportion of human infections, Dr. Sullivan said.


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Contact: Eric Schoch
eschoch@iupui.edu
317-274-7722
Indiana University
Source:Eurekalert

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