Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

Now in our 8th year of bringing you beautiful imagery from biomedical science every day

Lethal Ladybirds

Compound from ladybirds is active against the Schistosomiasis-causing parasitic worm

09 April 2019

Lethal Ladybirds

A third of the world’s population is infected with parasitic worms called helminths. Schistosomiasis is one of the many diseases they cause, resulting in 200,000 deaths a year. On a mission to find new drugs to treat helminth infections, researchers turn to insects, specifically the harlequin ladybird, which produces a range of potent anti-microbials including harmonine. They tested the effects of harmonine on Schistosoma mansoni, the helminth responsible for schistosomiasis. Growing S.mansoni adults in dishes with harmonine resulted in damage to several tissues needed for their survival, including outer protective layers, reproductive organs, and the gut. The guts of harmonine-treated helminths (pictured, right) were distended compared to untreated helminths (left), as revealed by confocal microscopy. Increasing the dose of harmonine resulted in further damage and the eventual death of S.mansoni adults. These results provide new avenues for research into novel compounds to combat the diseases caused by helminths.

Written by Lux Fatimathas

Search The Archive

Submit An Image

What is BPoD?

BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

Read More

BPoD is also available in Catalan at www.bpod.cat with translations by the University of Valencia.