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IU medical researcher gets $2M parasite grant

December 18, 2014

An Indianapolis scientist has won a nearly $2 million federal grant to find ways of combating a dangerous parasite that's infected an estimated 60 million Americans.

IU School of Medicine researcher William Sullivan and his team will use the National Institutes of Health grant to devise methods of attacking the Toxoplasma parasite.

Most people infected with Toxoplasmosis either develop flu-like symptoms or none at all.

But people with compromised immune systems can develop lung problems, blindness, seizures and other serious health problems as the parasite develops into a chronic infection.

The five-year grant will enable Sullivan and his colleagues to continue their work into understanding how an enzyme the parasite needs to replicate might be used to develop new drugs to halt the parasite in its tracks.

Because Toxoplasma is similar to the malaria parasite Plasmodium, anything Sullivan learns coould apply to the fight against malaria, a disease that hit more than 200 million people worldwide in 2012 and caused 627,000 deaths.

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