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Lömsk parasit lurar immunförsvaret genom att bilda hybrider

Malicious parasites deceive the immune system by creating hybrids

Researchers at Karolinska Institutet have mapped out how a tiny, dangerous parasite creates new variants that can better evade the immune system and cause disease.

The virulent parasite Trypanosoma cruzi can cause Chaga disease, which causes severe gastrointestinal and heart symptoms. The disease affects millions of people in Central and South America and kills thousands.

The tiny parasite contains many genes that can vary greatly, meaning it can trick the immune system. However, it is largely unknown how it works, but now researchers, including Karolinska Institutet, have shown how the parasite can form New varieties and hybrids, which are often better at evading the immune system and causing disease.

important knowledge

The researchers mapped the genetic material of the parent breeds and offspring over time, thus mapping how the hybrids formed. They were able to establish that initially hybrids contain all the DNA from both parents, but the amount of DNA gradually decreases to eventually end up at the right level, in addition, the researchers found that a large exchange of genetic material occurs, the so-called genetic recombination.

This knowledge is important because the exchange of genetic material can lead to new genetic variants that make the parasite more dangerous. More knowledge about how this process works could contribute to new ways to diagnose, prevent, and treat Chaga disease, which is a major problem in Central and South America, he says. Bjorn Andersonwho led the study, in one press release.

He is Professor of Genomic Analysis in the Department of Cell and Molecular Biology, Karolinska Institutet. The study was conducted in collaboration with the Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina in Brazil, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in the UK and Helmholtz Center Munich It was posted in eLife magazine. The study is based on strains of parasites that spontaneously formed hybrids in the laboratory.

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It will improve the diagnosis

“We are now continuing to study material from nature and from patients to map in more detail how the parasite alters its genes. We are also working to improve the diagnosis of Chaga disease in Bolivia,” says Bjorn Andersen in the press release.

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