Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Worming Out

Schistosomiasis-causing parasite killed by drug that targets an epigenetic regulatory enzyme

10 September 2020

Worming Out

In some parts of the world, a refreshing dip in a lake can carry a heavy cost, if the water is contaminated with parasites. Schistosomiasis is a tropical disease spread by contact with fresh water containing parasitic worms, such as the Schistosoma mansoni (pictured, left). Treatment is limited to one anti-worm drug, and there's a pressing need for new ways to tackle this parasite. A new study tested whether a particular enzyme in the worm might be a potential vulnerability to target. They treated adult and juvenile worms with MC3935, a drug that inhibits the behaviour of an enzyme usually involved in the restructuring of DNA. Worms treated with the drug were severely damaged (right), and died within four days. The treatment disrupted much of the usual function of the parasite, and could be the basis for a new, specific drug to help patients with this debilitating condition.

Written by Anthony Lewis

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