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Study explaining parasite gene expression could help fight toxoplasmosis and malaria
Date:1/2/2014

plasmosis parasite, but in most cases the infection produces flu-like symptoms or no symptoms at all. However, for people with immune system problems such as those undergoing chemotherapy or people with AIDS the disease can cause serious effects including lung problems, blurred vision and seizures. Also, infants born to mothers who are infected for the first time during or shortly before pregnancy are at risk for severe complications, miscarriages or stillbirths.

One of the most common routes to human infection is via cats, in particular their feces or litter. Eating undercooked meat from infected livestock can also result in human infection.

Although there are anti-parasitic drugs available to treat acute episodes of toxoplasmosis, it's currently impossible to completely eliminate the parasite because it can switch from an active to a latent cyst form in the body. Since GCN5b is active during both acute and latent stages, the enzyme and its associating components are very promising candidates for drug targeting, Dr. Sullivan said. Because the transcription factors are plant-like proteins not found in humans, drugs targeting them would be much less likely to affect human proteins and cause adverse effects.

Researchers also use Toxoplasma as a model organism for the malaria parasite Plasmodium, meaning much of what is learned about Toxoplasma could lead to new treatments for a disease that struck an estimated 207 million people worldwide in 2012 and caused an estimated 627,000 deaths, most of them children. Dr. Sullivan noted that the malaria parasite also possesses a GCN5 enzyme, as well as the plant-like proteins.


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Contact: Eric Schoch
eschoch@iu.edu
317-274-8205
Indiana University
Source:Eurekalert  

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