Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Fatal Feline
14 June 2015

Fatal Feline

Cat faeces can be dangerous stuff when the cat is host to a parasite called Toxoplasma. While harmless to most people, it can cause severe health problems in unborn babies, and in those whose immune systems are compromised by HIV/AIDS. Drugs to treat toxoplasmosis are limited and can have severe digestive side effects, so scientists are searching for novel therapies. Here they used an altered form of an existing antibiotic, Cipro, and found it protected mice infected with the parasite. To discover why, they investigated various stages of the Toxoplasma life cycle. The picture shows parasite cells treated with the new antibiotic. A protein (green) involved in the formation of the parasite’s daughter cells (red) has changed position in the cell consequently inhibiting the parasite’s ability to multiply. This a first stage in the development of a potential new treatment for toxoplasmosis.

Written by Julie Webb

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