The Low Post News

Parasitic Amoeba Nibbles Away At Cells to Kill Them

Amoebae, which are a group of single-celled amorphous organisms living in the human body, are able to kill cells in humans by biting chunks of intestinal cells until they then die, a new study has found.

The results of the test are the first time that scientists have seen the peculiar method of killing cells. The new findings could help one day to treat parasitic infections that today kill children around the world, said researchers.

The amoeba Entamoeba histolytica was analyzed by researchers. The parasite causes a diarrheal disease known s amoebiasis, which is sometimes fatal. This disease is usually found in the developing world.

Amoebiasis is a problem as well in the developed world amongst immigrants and travelers.

The lead author in the study said that diarrhea is a bigger cause of death in children than HIV, tuberculosis and malaria. In slums located in Dhaka, Bangladesh, one third of the children become infected with the parasite by the time they are one year old.

This amoeba said scientists can slice right through someone’s gut, cause colitis and inflammation of one’s colon. It can move on to cause liver abscesses as well.

However, prior to now it has been a mystery for over a century as to its method of killing cells.

Scientists suggested the amoebae kill the cells prior to eating them. However, the new research shows the reverse takes place: the amoebae nibble away at the cells to eventually kill them.

This discovery was made in a study by a University of Virginia cell biologist Katherine Ralston. One scientist said he had studied the parasite over 25 years and overlooked the observation Ralston discovered.

Through observations in a microscope, Ralston was able to see hints that the amoebae nibbled away at cells until they died. She was able to confirm those findings through labeling the human cells and seeing the tiny glowing bits that had been labeled, end up inside the parasites.

Single bites were not successful in killing the cells, instead it took a number of bits before the cells would die, said the researchers.

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