Use of DNA nanoparticles against trypanosomes

Dreaded parasite: Trypanosoma cruzi, the causative agent of sleeping sickness
Image: picture-alliance / BSIP / IMA

The causative agent of sleeping sickness can be killed with nanoparticles developed by researchers in Darmstadt. It is possible that the DNA particles can do even more.

B.iologists from TU Darmstadt have developed a new type of nanoparticle that can be used to fight pathogens, such as trypanosomes (photo), the causative agent of sleeping sickness. The particles, which could be used in drugs, consist of a core of membrane lipids – fat-like compounds – surrounded by a shell of DNA molecules.

In experiments with trypanosomes, researchers showed that the lipid nucleus of the particles can destroy the parasite’s cell membrane. The DNA, in turn, can be programmed to attack another biochemical target in the pathogen. To kill trypanosomes within a few hours, a smaller amount of the active ingredient is sufficient than with conventional drugs. DNA nanoparticles could also be modified in such a way that they can also be used against the causes of other infectious diseases.

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