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New research shows how disease-causing parasite gets around human innate immunity
Date:8/30/2010

Athens, Ga. Trypanosomes are parasites responsible for many human and animal diseases, primarily in tropical climates. One disease these parasites cause, African sleeping sickness, results from the bite of infected tsetse flies, putting over 60 million Africans at risk in 36 sub-Saharan countries. The recent 1998-2001 sleeping sickness epidemics in South Sudan, Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda killed tens of thousands of people and resulted in over a half million infected individuals.

A team of researchers at the University of Georgia and Glasgow University has now shown, for the first time, just how one species of these parasites evades the human innate defenses. The finding could open the way for new classes of drugs and more in-depth studies about how parasites manage to kill so many and cost governments billions of dollars to fight.

"We believe this research represents a paradigm shift and causes us to think more broadly about how pathogens avoid host defense mechanisms," said Stephen Hajduk, professor and head of the department of biochemistry and molecular biology at UGA and one of the leaders of the research. "It turns out that African trypanosomes have evolved a diversity of ways to avoid human innate and acquired immune systems."

The research, published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, was a joint effort between UGA and a group led by Annette Macleod at the University of Glasgow in Scotland. Other authors of the paper include Rudo Kieft, a research professional in Hajduk's lab at UGA; Paul Capewell and Nicola Veitch in the Macleod lab in Wellcome Center for Molecular Parasitology in Glasgow; and Michael Turner of the Biomedical Research Center at the University of Glasgow. The department of biochemistry and molecular biology at UGA is part of the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences. Hajduk also is a member of the Center for Tropical and Emerging Global Diseases at UGA.


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Contact: Stephen Hajduk
shajduk@uga.edu
706-583-5542
University of Georgia
Source:Eurekalert

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