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“Werewolf Amoeba”: New Research on Deadly Parasites

USA Today has dubbed Entamoeba histolytica the “werewolf amoeba.

Werewolf amoeba nibbling on mouse intestines.
Entamoeba histolytica parasites ingesting bites of intestinal cells in a mouse. Credit: Katherine Ralston and David Zemo

And Christopher Huston of the University of Vermont College of Medicine is calling the discovery a “technical tour de force.”

As published in Nature this week, UVA researchers have discovered that the deadly parasitic amoeba doesn’t engulf the human cells it kills but chews them to death instead.

This amoeba causes a potentially fatal diarrhea common in the developing world.

William A. Petri Jr., MD, PhD, chief of the UVA Division of Infectious Diseases and International Health, sees this research as having clear potential to providing “an avenue to explore how best to prevent and treat this parasite that infects up to one of every three children by their first birthday in Bangladesh.”

Amoebic trogocytosis eating T cells
Entamoeba histolytica parasites (green) ingesting bites of human T cells (pink). Credit: Katherine Ralston

Read more about the nibbling amoeba and the team behind the research.


Tags: research

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