Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

Now in our 12th year of bringing you beautiful imagery from biomedical science every day

Marking Tapeworms
12 July 2015

Marking Tapeworms

Sparaganosis is a debilitating infection caused by Spirometra tapeworm larvae. Humans can catch it by drinking contaminated water, eating raw flesh from frogs or snakes, or by putting that raw flesh on an open cut. Diagnosing sparaganosis is difficult, as infection with Spirometra in internal organs can only be confirmed when removing the tapeworm. So researchers have looked into using one of Spirometra’s enzymes that’s crucial to its survival and development, as a marker of infection in the victim’s blood. An important part of their research was to check that the enzyme was specific to the larval stage of the tapeworm’s lifecycle. It was indeed found in the last larval stage (indicated by the green fluorescence), and was absent at more mature stages (red, but no green). Now it may be possible to screen people’s blood for the presence of antibodies to the enzyme, which betray an underlying infection.

Written by Katie Panteli

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 with translations by the University of Valencia.