Image of the Day: Hungry Hookworms

Researchers discover anti-malarials called quinolones can halt the development of the parasites, offering a potential therapeutic avenue.

Mar 26, 2018
The Scientist Staff, The Scientist Staff

Adult hookworm (Nippostrongylus brasiliensis) with digested blood cells labeled with fluorescent marker PKH26T. BOUCHERY ET AL.

Researchers reported in PLOS Pathogens last week (March 22) that they have identified a pathway in hookworms (Nippostrongylus brasiliensis) involved in blood digestion that can be blocked by drugs in the quinolone family. Treating mice infected with hookworms reduced the parasites’ development and their ability to reproduce.

Tiffany Bouchery, a parasitologist at Malaghan Institute of Medical Research in New Zealand, and colleagues targeted an enzyme, aspartic protease-1 (APR-1), involved in the hookworms’ ability to break down a blood molecule called heme into digestible components. They tested the effects of quinolones, which break up similar compounds in malaria parasites, on the hookworms. The drugs disrupted the production of APR-1, and mice treated with them had lower levels of infection than controls.

T. Bouchery et al., “A novel blood-feeding detoxification pathway in Nippostrongylus brasiliensis L3 reveals a potential checkpoint for arresting hookworm development,” PLOS Pathogens, doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1006931, 2018.