African Sleeping Sickness Breakthrough
Ablation of flagellar proteins in African sleeping sickness parasite; monstrous cells arise (main picture) & rapidly die as parasites fail to divide. Inset: normal trypanosome for comparison not to scale. (Image source: Lancaster University) Researchers have made a crucial breakthrough in the journey towards finding a treatment for African Sleeping Sickness.
The team of researchers from Lancaster, Oxford and Manchester Universities have discovered a weakness in the parasite that causes the disease - it cannot survive in the human bloodstream without the use of its flagellum, a protein 'tail' that allows it to swim.
This unexpected discovery offers up a valuable lead in the search for new drugs to control the killer disease.
The study is published this week (March 9) in the leading scientific journal Nature.
The sleeping sickness parasite, Trypanosoma brucei, is a single-celled organism equipped with a whip-like tail or flagellum. The parasite initially lives in the bloodstream of the human host causing fever and headaches, but eventually crosses into the brain where it causes irreversible neurological damage. Without treatment, the disease is fatal.
Source: Lancaster University. April 2006.
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