Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

Now in our 10th year of bringing you beautiful imagery from biomedical science every day

Working Out Whipworm

Greater understanding of the projections on whipworm –  a target for treatment

23 May 2020

Working Out Whipworm

Right now there are about one billion infections worldwide with the parasitic worm, Trichuris trichiura or whipworm. It tunnels into the cells of human intestines and is thought to interact with its unwilling host using projections called cuticular inflations. The structure and function of these cuticular inflations are not well understood. Researchers now investigate by imaging these projections in another closely related whipworm, Trichuris muris, using a special type of scanning electron microscopy (pictured). They pinpointed when these projections develop and revealed a previously unknown web-like structure within them. What’s more, they found cells underneath the projections contained lots of energy-producing units called mitochondria. This hints at a role for these outgrowths in a high-energy task such as adapting the fluid environment surrounding the worm to support its survival in its host’s cells. These insights build a clearer picture of how whipworms function, which could help develop better treatments.

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 with translations by the University of Valencia.