Discovery of a potential therapeutic target to combat trypanosomes

phys.org | 10/26/2017 | Staff
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Yaser Hashem's team at the Laboratoire Architecture et Réactivité de l'ARN at CNRS's has discovered a new potential therapeutic target - located in the ribosome - to combat trypanosomes parasites. Using cryo-electron microscopy, researchers at the Institut de Biologie Moléculaire et Cellulaire (CNRS/Université de Strasbourg) have analyzed the structure of these parasites in details and revealed one of their potential weak points, which has remained undetected until now. This discovery opens the path to the development of new safer therapies that are less toxic and more specific against trypanosomes, the parasites causing the Chagas disease and the African sleeping sickness. This study is published on October 26, 2017 in Structure.

Trypanosomes, more generally called kinetoplastids, are unicellular parasites responsible for numerous diseases of variable severity that can be lethal in the most severe cases. Trypanosoma brucei, Trypanosoma cruzi and Leishmania major are probably the best known and cause the African sleeping sickness, Chagas disease and various Leishmaniasis, respectively.

Bacteria - Organisms - Cells - Nucleus - Cells

Unlike bacteria, these organisms are eukaryotic cells that contain a nucleus, just like human cells. The similarities, though low, between animal cells and trypanosome cells complicate some therapeutic approaches. For example, an antibiotic targeting given molecular machinery in trypanosomes such as the ribosome could harm human cells at the same time. Until now, researchers thought that eukaryotic ribosomes (molecules involved in protein synthesis) had extremely similar structures from one species of eukaryotes to another, such as for instance the case of humans and trypanosomes, making them almost untouchable....
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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