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Appetite for a Foodborne Infection.

Carruthers VB - PLoS Pathog. (2015)

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, Michigan, United States of America.

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Most people who ask about our research are somewhat aghast to hear that their neurons might be dens for a brain parasite obtained from cats or from eating contaminated meat... Although Toxoplasma gondii, or “Toxo” for short, can be an aggressive cause of birth defects, eye disease, or fatal neural syndrome in people with weak immunity, many of the 2 billion people infected, including 60 million Americans, don’t know they have the parasite... Nonetheless, the cumulative effects of this infection are coming to light, exposing a plethora of subtle yet startling potential consequences, ranging from altered personality and behavior to worsening of mental illnesses and memory loss... While such effects were unknown when I first started studying Toxo, it was clear to me then that a parasite capable of infecting so many people must have some clever tricks up its sleeves... Indeed, elegant studies by many dedicated researchers are revealing the complex machinery the parasite uses to enter cells... Within this arena, my lab identified a parasite cathepsin protease that contributes to invasion by activating proteins Toxo uses to recognize a target cell... For starters, studying the protease helped reveal for the first time that Toxo has a complete digestive system, including an organelle that resembles a lysosome, the “stomach” of a cell... Although there is a need to improve therapies for the symptomatic phases, developing a first-of-its-kind treatment for the chronic brain stage is one of the greatest challenges in the field... In a step toward this goal, our latest work is revealing that the Toxo cathepsin protease is crucial to the parasite when it is hibernating in neurons and that inhibiting the enzyme effectively kills this stage... The chronic stage is notoriously difficult to study because of its slow growth, making it challenging to identify potential treatments in the absence of basic knowledge... Like sweet treats at the top of the food pyramid, virtually all new medicines rest upon foundational bricks of insight from basic research... However, realizing this potential depends on securing a grant with an approximately 1 in 10 chance of approval with each submission... The parasite might be safe it its den (for now).

No MeSH data available.


Vern B. Carruthers.
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ppat.1005124.g001: Vern B. Carruthers.


Appetite for a Foodborne Infection.

Carruthers VB - PLoS Pathog. (2015)

Vern B. Carruthers.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4581734&req=5

ppat.1005124.g001: Vern B. Carruthers.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, Michigan, United States of America.

AUTOMATICALLY GENERATED EXCERPT
Please rate it.

Most people who ask about our research are somewhat aghast to hear that their neurons might be dens for a brain parasite obtained from cats or from eating contaminated meat... Although Toxoplasma gondii, or “Toxo” for short, can be an aggressive cause of birth defects, eye disease, or fatal neural syndrome in people with weak immunity, many of the 2 billion people infected, including 60 million Americans, don’t know they have the parasite... Nonetheless, the cumulative effects of this infection are coming to light, exposing a plethora of subtle yet startling potential consequences, ranging from altered personality and behavior to worsening of mental illnesses and memory loss... While such effects were unknown when I first started studying Toxo, it was clear to me then that a parasite capable of infecting so many people must have some clever tricks up its sleeves... Indeed, elegant studies by many dedicated researchers are revealing the complex machinery the parasite uses to enter cells... Within this arena, my lab identified a parasite cathepsin protease that contributes to invasion by activating proteins Toxo uses to recognize a target cell... For starters, studying the protease helped reveal for the first time that Toxo has a complete digestive system, including an organelle that resembles a lysosome, the “stomach” of a cell... Although there is a need to improve therapies for the symptomatic phases, developing a first-of-its-kind treatment for the chronic brain stage is one of the greatest challenges in the field... In a step toward this goal, our latest work is revealing that the Toxo cathepsin protease is crucial to the parasite when it is hibernating in neurons and that inhibiting the enzyme effectively kills this stage... The chronic stage is notoriously difficult to study because of its slow growth, making it challenging to identify potential treatments in the absence of basic knowledge... Like sweet treats at the top of the food pyramid, virtually all new medicines rest upon foundational bricks of insight from basic research... However, realizing this potential depends on securing a grant with an approximately 1 in 10 chance of approval with each submission... The parasite might be safe it its den (for now).

No MeSH data available.