Research reveals body’s defence mechanism against snail fever

Scientists have made a significant discovery about how the body defends itself against snail fever, a parasitic worm infection common in developing countries

Scientists have made a significant discovery about how the body defends itself against snail fever, a parasitic worm infection common in developing countries.

Researchers studied the immune response in mice infected with snail fever parasites. They found that a particular type of immune cell, known as the dendritic cell, is responsible for triggering the immune system's defence against the invading parasite.

The development, by scientists at the University of Edinburgh, could point towards new avenues of research into treatments for the condition, which causes long-term infection.

Snail fever, also known as bilharzia, is a water-borne potentially fatal disease caused by flukes - or parasitic worms - found in freshwater snails in the tropics. Common in developing countries in Asia, Africa and South America, the condition causes chronic illness that can damage internal organs and impair growth and brain development in children.

The disease, which commonly affects tourists who kayak or swim in infected waters, is second only to malaria in terms of its devastating social and economic impact.

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