Knowledge Capital School 4 : Cutting edge medical research at Osaka University

<Knowledge Capital School: Cutting edge medical research at Osaka University>

Lecture 4: Toxoplasmosis and immunity

The Graduate School of Medicine and the Immunology Frontier Research Center held its fourth of four science cafés at Osaka Knowledge Capital on July 17. The talk was given by Associate Professor Miwa Sasai, who spoke about the toxoplasma parasite and immunity. 

Toxoplasma is one of the most common infections in humans, with an estimated 20-30% of the Japanese population infected. Congenital toxoplasmosis is a disease that infects the fetus and is on the rise, but little is known about the mechanism that causes the infection. Dr. Sasai is investigating the mechanism by knockout mice and gene analysis. She explained how she grew toxoplasma parasites inside the cells and observed the proteins these parasites secrete. Some of these proteins attracted neutrophils, which went on to spread the infection to other parts of the body. She added that this experimental model has the potential to study other immune stimulants, such as mold and bacteria, and also the study of autoimmune diseases.

The many questions from the audience considered vaccines for the infection, the life cycle of Toxoplasma, and the route through which it infects a cell.