10 August 2014
Worms can be slippery characters but none are more difficult to pin down than S. mansoni (female is the smaller of the two in this image). As this carrier of the tropical disease schistosomiasis matures, it’s forever changing its physical characteristics and location within different hosts. This complex life cycle makes the parasite a moving target and extremely difficult to treat. What’s deadly to an adult worm, for example, may leave a youngster untouched and free to continue the infection. Searching for new ways to fight the disease, scientists have identified a protein-modifying enzyme as a potential point of attack. The molecule is active in critical parts of adult worm’s body (shown in green) and has been linked to movement and reproduction. Therefore finding new drugs that interfere with this enzyme could be the best way to stop this tricky customer in its tracks.
Written by Jan Piotrowski