Parasites can now be isolated for detailed studySeptember 13th, 2008 - 2:07 pm ICT by IANS
Washington, Sep 13 (IANS) Researchers have worked out a method to isolate parasitic organisms from their host cells, enabling deeper insights into why and how they cause so many diseases. Many infectious pathogens, like those that cause Toxoplasmosis (leading to serious illness or death in the foetus), have a complex life cycle, alternating between free-living creature and cell-enclosed parasite.
A thorough analysis of proteins that help these organisms undergo this lifestyle change would be tremendously useful for drug or vaccine development. However, until now it was extremely difficult to separate the parasites from their host cell for detailed study.
Toni Aebischer of the School of Biology, University of Edinburgh and colleagues worked around this problem by designing special fluorescent Leishmania mexicana (one of the many Leishmaniases parasites).
They then passed infected cells through a machine that can separate cell components based on how much they glow. Researchers separated the Leishmania parasites (that infects animals and humans) with only about two percent contamination, far better than earlier methods.
They then successfully identified 509 proteins in the parasites, 34 of which were more prominent in parasites than free -living Leishmania.
The results yielded many characteristics of these organisms, such as a high presence of fatty acid degrading enzymes, which highlights adaptation to intracellularly available energy sources.
These findings were presented in September issue of Molecular & Cellular Proteomics.