Towards a cure for toxoplasmosis

A multidisciplinary research team has developed new molecules that show significant promise as leads for the treatment of toxoplasmosis.

The team is co-led by Prof. Colin Fishwick and involves Dr. Martin McPhillie and James Gordon.

This chronic, currently incurable infection, caused by the parasite Toxoplasma gondii, infects the brain and eye of as many as 2 billion people worldwide. The study, published in the Nature Publishing Group journal, Scientific Reports, describes how X-ray crystallography was used to investigate the binding of the synthetic molecule MJM-170, developed in the School of Chemistry, to the bc1 protein within the T. gondii parasite, ultimately leading to the death of the organism.

The team's findings are important because T. gondii is the most frequent cause of infection leading to destruction of the back of the eye for persons in most countries in the world. It is most damaging for infants and children who acquire infection from their mothers during gestation, but it can also cause life-threatening infections in those with compromised immune systems, such as those with cancer, autoimmune disease or AIDS.