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March 7th, 2008
Antibiotics and chemotherapy - two common medical treatments - flood our bodies with toxic pharmaceutical compounds in the hope that they will find and destroy the invasive micro organisms or tumour cells that are making us feel unwell. Unfortunately, the process is not targeted and can cause unintended side-effects in healthy body tissue.
A new means to target disease-causing micro-organisms without damaging the surrounding healthy body tissue has been demonstrated by a team of researchers in the Faculty of Science. This research focuses on the parasitic organism Toxoplasma gondii. Infection with this organism can cause pregnant women to abort, and transmission of the parasite to the foetus can cause mental retardation, blindness, seizures and death. Toxo infections can also have serious consequences for individuals with AIDS or tuberculosis or patients who have recently received organ transplants.
PhD student Dakrong Pissuwan and colleagues in the Faculty of Science have developed functionalised nanoparticles that can target disease-causing micro-organisms specifically. Pissuwan is working with her supervisors Professor Michael Cortie, Director of the Institute for Nanotechnology, and Dr Stella Valenzuela from Department of Medical and Molecular Bioscience in collaboration with Dr Catherine Miller from the Institute of Biological and Infectious Diseases.
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