New toxoplasmosis parasite study reported

June 23, 2008 at 3:06 PM
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BLOOMINGTON, Ind., June 23 (UPI) -- U.S. medical scientists studying the toxoplasmosis parasite have discovered how it transforms into a cyst form that resists drug treatments.

Indiana University School of Medicine researchers said their findings have opened a promising door to new drugs for toxoplasmosis and other parasites that now can evade treatments by turning dormant in the body until a patient's immune system is weakened.

Led by Assistant Professor William Sullivan Jr. and Professor Ronald Wek, the research team found a cellular signaling system that takes hold when the parasite is stressed, enabling it to transform into the cyst surrounded by a protective barrier.

That signaling system might serve as a target to block the transformation into the cyst form or to attack the parasite while in the cyst form, the scientists said.

The findings are reported in the June 13 issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

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