Sixty million people in sub-Saharan Africa live at risk of African sleeping sickness, a disease caused by parasites transmitted through the tsetse fly. In the late stage of the disease, when the parasite crosses the blood-brain barrier, the results are oftentimes fatal.
BYU chemistry professor Ken Christensen, students and collaborators at Clemson University have developed an innovative technique using biosensors to monitor the glucose level of Trypanasoma brucei parasites, which could in turn help develop treatments for the sleeping sickness.
“The unique thing about the T. brucei parasite is that it relies on host glucose for survival,” said Christensen, whose study was recently published in top-ranked journal PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases. “We know that if you could deprive the parasites in the blood stream of glucose, the parasite will die.”
For the study, Christensen tested glucose levels to monitor the metabolism of the parasites using a genetically-encoded glucose biosensor. The biosensor combines three proteins: a cyan florescent protein, a glucose-binding protein, and a yellow florescent protein.
When the glucose-binding protein interacts with glucose in the parasite, the two fluorescent proteins move closer together. Christensen then uses the spectroscopic changes to monitor the fluorescence-intensity ratio between the yellow and cyan proteins. When the proteins are far apart, the blue light from the cyan fluorescent protein remains. But as the proteins move closer together, the blue light goes down and the yellow light from the yellow fluorescent protein increases.
This ratio is proportional to the glucose level in the parasite.
The results obtained from the biosensor provide new insights into the process through which parasites acquire and transport glucose for survival and provide a means to identify molecules that disrupt glucose levels in the parasite.
“In the long run, we hope that some of the glucose-disrupting molecules we are now identifying can be developed into therapeutics to treat African sleeping sickness,” Christensen said.
Learn more: Stopping a tiny — and deadly — fly in its tracks
The Latest on: Sleeping sickness
via Google News
The Latest on: Sleeping sickness
- 100 years ago: Scientists suggest ‘dopiness’ in children might be caused by diseaseon January 4, 2020 at 1:36 am
Let me fix that right up for both of you fellows.’” This was the result of new research into the terrifying disease of encephalitis lethargica, commonly called sleepy sickness (as opposed to the ...
- Protist Genome Project Launched by Chinese Scientistson January 3, 2020 at 10:40 am
A program to analyse the diverse genome of 10,000 protists, some of which can cause diseases such as malaria and sleeping sickness, has been launched by six Chinese research institutions to establish ...
- 100 years ago in Spokane: Cases of ‘sleeping sickness’ reported in Spokane; one man deadon December 27, 2019 at 5:12 pm
Five cases of “sleeping sickness, known to the medical profession as encephalitis lethargica,” were reported in Spokane. A 21-year-old in Newport, Washington, died after a month’s illness. This was a ...
- Gaining New Insight Into Sleeping Sicknesson December 13, 2019 at 5:26 am
Sleeping sickness is a threat to public health in some parts of Sub-Saharan Africa. It's caused by two kinds of parasites that are transmitted by some species of tsetse flies. The Trypanosoma brucei ...
- Insight into the neglected tropical disease sleeping sicknesson December 12, 2019 at 12:19 pm
Researchers have shed light on how the parasite which causes sleeping sickness multiples inside its host. Human African Trypanosomiasis or sleeping sickness, only occurs in Sub-Saharan Africa where an ...
- Bill & Melinda Gates donate $7.5m for fight against Sleeping Sicknesson December 6, 2019 at 6:42 am
project that is driving elimination of sleeping sickness in Africa. The Trypa-NO! extension aims to validate disease elimination as a public health problem in Uganda and Ivory Coast, drive cases to ...
- Can Africa end the curse of sleeping sickness?on October 24, 2019 at 4:51 am
Once the bane of sub-Saharan Africa, sleeping sickness is agonisingly close to being wiped out, but only if countries—and donors—keep up their guard, say scientists. The disease, transmitted to humans ...
- Can Africa end the curse of sleeping sickness?on October 24, 2019 at 2:55 am
Bouake (Ivory Coast) (AFP) - Once the bane of sub-Saharan Africa, sleeping sickness is agonisingly close to being wiped out, but only if countries -- and donors -- keep up their guard, say scientists.
via Bing News