Tag Archives: parasite

STD may heighten risk of prostate cancer

Could a common sexually transmitted infection boost a man’s risk for prostate cancer?

In a new study, Patricia Johnson, a professor of microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, explored the connection between prostate cancer and the parasite that causes trichomoniasis, the most common non-viral sexually transmitted infection in men and women. (more…)

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Zuckerlösung und Nistkästen für Ihre Majestät

Im Frühjahr Hummel-Königinnen beim Start in die Saison helfen

Anders als bei der Honigbiene, wo immer auch einige Arbeiterinnen den Winter überleben, sterben bei den Hummeln außer der bereits begatteten Jungkönigin alle anderen Tiere im Herbst ab. Im zeitigen Frühjahr gehen die Königinnen auf die Suche nach einem Nistplatz, an dem sie ein neues Hummelvolk gründen können. Dazu werden Totholzhaufen, Steinspalten und Mäuselöcher gründlich inspiziert, manchmal auch Vogelnester oder gar Hausisolierungen.

Dabei zehren die Jungköniginnen zunächst noch von Nahrungsvorräten aus dem Vorjahr, den sie in ihrem Honigmagen eingelagert haben. Bald aber sind die Vorräte aufgebraucht und dann ist es wichtig, dass rechtzeitig und in ausreichendem Maß nektarspendende Blüten zur Verfügung stehen. Zur Entwicklung der Eierstöcke fressen die Königinnen außerdem auch Blütenpollen. (more…)

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Common Parasite May Trigger Suicide Attempts

EAST LANSING, Mich. — A parasite thought to be harmless and found in many people may actually be causing subtle changes in the brain, leading to suicide attempts.

New research appearing in the August issue of The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry adds to the growing work linking an infection caused by the Toxoplasma gondii parasite to suicide attempts. Michigan State University’s Lena Brundin was one of the lead researchers on the team.

About 10-20 percent of people in the United States have Toxoplasma gondii, or T. gondii, in their bodies, but in most it was thought to lie dormant, said Brundin, an associate professor of experimental psychiatry in MSU’s College of Human Medicine. In fact, it appears the parasite can cause inflammation over time, which produces harmful metabolites that can damage brain cells. (more…)

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Why Bad Immunity Genes Survive

*Study implicates “arms race” between genes and germs*

Biologists have found new evidence of why mice, people and other vertebrate animals carry thousands of varieties of genes to make immune-system proteins named MHCs–even though some of those genes make vertebrate animals susceptible to infections and to autoimmune diseases.

“Major histocompatibility complex” (MHC) proteins are found on the surfaces of most cells in vertebrate animals. They distinguish proteins like themselves from foreign proteins, and trigger an immune response against these foreign invaders. (more…)

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X-Ray Diffraction May Play Key Role in Stopping ‘Kissing Bug,’ Fungus

John Tanner, who also teaches chemistry in the College of Arts and Science, is studying Aspergillus fumigatus. Image credit: University of Missouri

COLUMBIA, Mo. – If finding the cure for a fungus and parasite that affects millions of people were the subject of a detective show, University of Missouri Chemistry Professor John Tanner would be the forensic expert in the lab, using high-tech equipment to make a model that could eventually solve the crime.

Tanner, who also teaches chemistry in the College of Arts and Science, has joined forces with Pablo Sobrado, an assistant professor of biochemistry at Virginia Tech, to study a unique enzyme found on two “crime scenes”: in Aspergillus fumigatus, a fungus that causes pulmonary diseases in immuno-compromised people; and in a blood-sucking insect prevalent in South America and now being found in the southwestern U.S., called the Chagas parasite, also known as the “kissing bug” for the red welts left on the victims’ faces after being bitten in his or her sleep.

“My job is to figure out what the enzyme looks like using X-ray diffraction,” Tanner said. “This enzyme makes a special sugar molecule that these organisms need to survive, so if we can find a way to stop the reaction that makes that sugar, then we might find a way to kill these pathogens.” (more…)

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