How infection with Typanosomacruzi—an intracellular parasite that can hide out in the cells of the body—results in the development of chronic Chagas disease has been a mystery. Now a study in the July 23 Cell reports the integration of T.cruzi DNA into the genomes of infected patients, as well as chicken and rabbit animal models, suggesting that horizontal gene transfer may play a role in T.cruzi host–parasite interactions.

T. Cruzi infects some 16 to 18 million people in Latin America, and one third of these infections are estimated to result in chronic Chagas disease, which may not manifest itself until decades after an initial infection. A "major controversy" in the area of chronic Chagas disease research has been whether the presence of the parasite or an autoimmune reaction is its potential cause, said David Campbell, from the University of California, Los Angeles, who was...

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