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Newly-discovered Parasite Image 1
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Newly-discovered Parasite (Image 1)

July 19, 2010
Roundworm intestine infected with spores of newly discovered species of microsporidia cytoplasm (a single-celled parasite of animals) called Nematocida parisii. The new species of microsporidia was found in the nematode C. elegans.

The discovery is significant because public health researchers have been seeking a suitable laboratory model in which to study microsporidia--a class of emerging pathogens that can cause significant illness in humans. The National Institutes of Health classifies microsporidia as a "priority pathogen" because they have been found in water supplies and because no drugs are available to treat the most common infections they cause in humans.

Emily Troemel, an assistant professor of biology at the University of California-San Diego, and the first author of the study said, "The new species we discovered, which infects the nematode C. elegans, a small roundworm that is very easy to study in the lab, provides a powerful system in which to study these mysterious microbes, learn how these animals respond to infection and develop new drugs to fight infections of microsporidia."

The discovery of the new microsporidia species in C. elegans is expected to be particularly useful as a laboratory model to learn how this class of microbes infects humans and how it could be treated with drugs because N. parisii infects the intestines of roundworms in the same way that other species of microsporidia infect human intestines, and because the bodies of C. elegans are transparent. Potential benefits include the possible identification of new drugs for treating human microsporidian infections.

To learn more about the discovery, see the University of California, San Diego, news release "Discovery of Microbe in Roundworm Provides Animal Model for 'Emerging Pathoge.'" [See related image Here.] (Date of Image: 2008)