The Battle Against the Brain-Eating Amoeba
How can nanoparticles be used to prevent deaths caused by unicellular organisms?
Maryam Mahdi | | Quick Read
Unicellular organisms like Naegleria fowleri are generally harmless. However, the organism is known by another – far more ominous name – “brain eating amoeba.” Although N. fowleri typically eat bacteria, but if introduced into humans via nostrils (usually via contaminated water during swimming, ablution, bathing, nasal irrigation etc.) they can use brains as a food source. Though such incidences are fortunately rare, morbidity and mortality rates associated with diseases caused by amoeba are rising, particularly in developing countries, where people rely on water storage systems that can fall foul to contamination. Now, researchers at the American University of Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, have designed novel compounds which, when combined with silver nanoparticles, show promise in killing the amoeba.
N. fowleri is attracted to the chemicals that neurons produce when communicating with one another, and will travel through the nose and olfactory nerve before reaching the brain, where it can cause infections like primary amoebic meningoencephalitis (which causes inflammation and destruction of the brain and its linings) and granulomatous amoebic encephalitis (a rare but usually fatal CNS disease).
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