Research scientists at The University of Edinburgh have used newly discovered information about parasite survival to better understand sleeping sickness. Sleeping sickness is a parasitic disease that is transmitted by the tsetse fly. It is a dangerous disease that affects both humans and animals. A parasite can develop into two physical forms and a study at University of Edinburgh lead by Keith Matthews discovered how the parasite could maintain stability between both of its physical forms. One form keeps the disease in the bloodstream and the other moves to the tsetse fly making certain the disease continues to spread to other victims. The study used mathematical and biological techniques to better realize how the parasite continues to infect the body while also spreading on to others. This new information will help researchers understand how the parasite reacts and adjusts to ensure survival. There are many people affected with the illness especially in sub-Saharan Africa while others are at risk. Although there is not a complete cure for sleeping sickness, the recent study done by the University of Edinburgh has helped scientists better understand the disease.
“Parasite strategy offers insight to help tackle sleeping sickness” Catriona Kelly, EurekAlert, April 2011
“New Insight into Survival Strategy of Sleeping Sickness Parasite” BioQuick News, April 2011
Student Researchers: Nick Strautman, Currin McCarty, Matt Coffin
Faculty Advisor: Kevin Howley
Evaluator: Lynn M Bedard