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Worm 'Cell Death' Discovery Could Lead to New Drugs for Deadly Parasite

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Researchers from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute have for the first time identified a 'programmed cell death' pathway in parasitic worms that could one day lead to new treatments for one of the world's most serious and prevalent diseases.

Dr Erinna Lee and Dr Doug Fairlie from the institute's Structural Biology division study programmed cell death (also called apoptosis) in human cells. They have recently started studying the process in schistosomes, parasitic fluke worms responsible for the deadly disease schistosomiasis.

Dr Lee said that the group has shown that, unexpectedly, the cell death machinery that exists in fluke worms is remarkably similar to the cell death pathway in human cells. The finding was recently published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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