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X-Ray Laser Helps Fight Sleeping Sickness: Exploiting Parasite's Weak Spot May Lead to New Treatments

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An international group of scientists working at the Department of Energy's (DOE) SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory has mapped a weak spot in the parasite that causes African sleeping sickness, pinpointing a promising new target for treating a disease that kills tens of thousands of people each year.

The results, reported Nov. 29 in Science Express, are already being enlisted in the effort to combat the disease, which is transmitted by tsetse flies infected with the single-celled parasite. The study also marks a milestone in using X-ray lasers, such as SLAC's Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS), to determine the structures of biological molecules that are important for human health.

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