“Elusive” proteins have been defined as those identified by a group of researchers at the University of Alberta, a discovery that could lead to new therapies that are less painful and more efficient with regard to African sleeping sickness and Chagas disease.
In the study, published in the Life Science Alliance, the discovery of the PEX3 protein is described. Until this study it was believed that this protein did not exist in the trypanosome, a kind of parasite that leads to various infections as well as to the aforementioned diseases.
This protein is an essential component for many living things, including humans as well as the trypanosomes themselves. Its task is to manage peroxisomes, particular cells that break down fatty acids and amino acids, an essential process to obtain energy.
The interruption of the action of PEX3 in the parasites could in fact be a more than efficient method to kill them without damaging the patient.
Rick Rachubinski, cell biologist and one of the authors of the study together with colleagues Hiren Banerjee and Barbara Knobloch, commented on the discovery: “Finding PEX3 in trypanosomes was very difficult. People have been looking for years and couldn’t find it. Some people said it didn’t exist, that it was a different mechanism, but we thought the simplest answer was that we hadn’t found it yet.”