Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Dangerous Parasite Gains New Attention In Battles Against AIDS, Bioterrorism

Date:
December 26, 2006
Source:
Montana State University
Summary:
Montana State University researchers and their collaborators are gaining widespread attention for discoveries involving a common parasite that can threaten everyone from babies to AIDS patients. Toxoplasmosis is normally associated with medical advice that pregnant women avoid changing cat litter, but it's gaining new attention because of the AIDS epidemic and bioterrorism, the researchers said. Severe toxoplasmosis can cause AIDS patients to go into a deep dementia and become unconscious of their surroundings.

Toxoplasma gondii parasites invade a mouse cell. The parasites are green and the nucleus is blue.
Credit: Photo by Jim Ajioka, University of Cambridge

Montana State University researchers and their collaborators are gaining widespread attention for discoveries involving a common parasite that can threaten everyone from babies to AIDS patients.

Their findings about Toxoplasma gondii and toxoplasmosis were published recently in three major scientific journals. Nature published a paper Dec. 20 in its advanced online version. Science published a paper on Dec. 15 and PLoS Pathogens on Oct. 27.

"It's not often you get such a cluster of papers coming out," said Michael White, one of the authors and an MSU professor of veterinary molecular biology. He added that MSU researchers will have another opportunity to explain the studies when they host an international conference on toxoplasmosis from June 29-July 2 at Chico Hot Springs.

Toxoplasmosis is normally associated with medical advice that pregnant women avoid changing cat litter, but it's gaining new attention because of the AIDS epidemic and bioterrorism, the researchers said. Severe toxoplasmosis can cause AIDS patients to go into a deep dementia and become unconscious of their surroundings.

"It's one of the worst syndromes an AIDS patient can die from," said Jay Radke, another of the MSU authors.

Toxoplasmosis is a disease caused by the parasite Toxoplasma gondii. Symptoms usually appear only in people with weakened immune systems, but on rare occasions, healthy people suffer serious eye and central nervous system problems from toxoplasmosis. Their babies can have birth defects. White said toxoplasmosis also may be linked to some cases of schizophrenia and bipolar disease. It can kill livestock and has devastated efforts to restore sea otters near Monterey, Calif. Because it's common, yet complex, toxoplasmosis is a potential weapon for bioterrorists.

People usually acquire toxoplasmosis by eating commercial meat or drinking water that's contaminated with Toxoplasma gondii, White said. They can also pick it up by handling soil or anything that has come in contact with cat feces.

"It's a complex cell just likes ours in terms of metabolism and biochemistry, which makes it a tough nut to crack," White said.

The recently-published studies show that molecular interactions between the parasite and host directly regulate the disease's severity, White said. Genes from the parasite also disrupt signals in the host's immune system and control the establishment of life-long chronic disease.

Genetic crosses produced at MSU were critical in the study that discovered that the parasite dumps a protein into the host to dramatically regulate its immune response, White said. Labs in MSU's Department of Veterinary Molecular Biology and MSU's microarray facility helped establish the role of a second pathogen protein that makes one strain of Toxoplasma especially dangerous.

"Type I strains are extremely important to human medicine as they are disproportionately responsible for inflammation of the brain in AIDS patients and for severe congenital disease that is passed from mother to baby," White said.

MSU led the study that was published in PloS, White said. MSU made major contributions to the Nature and Science papers which were collaborations with Stanford University and Washington University in St. Louis.

The studies give other scientists a model for studying toxoplasmosis or related diseases like malaria and Eimeria, which causes coccidiosis, White added. Eimeria parasites kill chickens and other commercially-raised animals like cattle.

A press release from Washington University said researchers in the future will try to develop more effective treatments against toxoplasmosis by blocking ROP18, the gene largely responsible for making toxoplasmosis so dangerous to humans. The Toxoplasma gondii parasite has approximately 6,000 genes in all. Scientists will also look for other genes that work together with ROP18.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Montana State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Montana State University. "Dangerous Parasite Gains New Attention In Battles Against AIDS, Bioterrorism." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 December 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/12/061221073311.htm>.
Montana State University. (2006, December 26). Dangerous Parasite Gains New Attention In Battles Against AIDS, Bioterrorism. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 16, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/12/061221073311.htm
Montana State University. "Dangerous Parasite Gains New Attention In Battles Against AIDS, Bioterrorism." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/12/061221073311.htm (accessed April 16, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Change of Diet Helps Crocodile Business

Change of Diet Helps Crocodile Business

Reuters - Business Video Online (Apr. 16, 2014) Crocodile farming has been a challenge in Zimbabwe in recent years do the economic collapse and the financial crisis. But as Ciara Sutton reports one of Europe's biggest suppliers of skins to the luxury market has come up with an unusual survival strategy - vegetarian food. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A new study conducted by researchers at Northwestern and Harvard suggests even casual marijuana use can alter your brain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Outbreak Now Linked To 121 Deaths

Ebola Outbreak Now Linked To 121 Deaths

Newsy (Apr. 15, 2014) The ebola virus outbreak in West Africa is now linked to 121 deaths. Health officials fear the virus will continue to spread in urban areas. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
In Washington, a Push to Sterilize Stray Cats

In Washington, a Push to Sterilize Stray Cats

AFP (Apr. 14, 2014) To curb the growing numbers of feral cats in the US capital, the Washington Humane Society is encouraging residents to set traps and bring the animals to a sterilization clinic, after which they are released.. Duration: 02:29 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins