Intestinal parasite of cats as a treatment for cancer

Intestinal parasite of cats as a treatment for cancer

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A parasite that lives in cat droppings could one day be used as a treatment for cancer.

He Toxoplasma gondii it is a single-celled parasite that lives in the intestines of cats, but can also infect other animals, including people. People infected with this parasite rarely have symptoms, similar to those of a flu, because their immune systems attack and prevent the parasite from causing any disease.

The parasite does not kill the host. When the parasite invades an animal's body, the host's immune response kills the rapidly replicating cells of the parasite and protects the host from dying. When the acute infection is over, the parasite transforms into a latent form that the host then carries in tissues such as muscles and the brain for the rest of its life.

The authors of a study, published in the journal, tried to harness the immune response elicited by the parasite and direct it to attack tumors. To do this, they used a genetically modified Toxoplasma parasite, and treated mice that had skin cancer and mice that had ovarian cancer. They manipulated the parasite's genome so that it was unable to reproduce, and therefore could not cause any disease.

They injected the modified parasites into the tumors of the mice. This produced stimulation of the mouse's immune system, which attacked the tumor cells. About 90% of the mice survived melanoma.

In aggressive ovarian cancer, survival was increased, although all the mice eventually died.

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Video: Toxoplasma gondii lifecycle (May 2022).