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Details of whipworm larvae colonising the gut revealed

17 July 2022

Catching the Worm

Caused by the whipworm parasite, the disease Trichuriasis is prevalent in tropical areas and affects hundreds of millions of people worldwide, yet it’s often overlooked. A few treatments are available, but none are effective at complete eradication, so finding other treatment options is essential. One major obstacle to preventing this disease is that we don’t know what happens in the early stages of infection by this parasitic worm. Using their new organoid ‘mini gut’ model, researchers have discovered that whipworms degrade the mucus layers within our gut and create tunnels to access our cells. These tunnels are thought to provide shelter and a continuous source of nutrients so that the worm can persist in the gut. In this video, the worm, the host cells and the tunnels can finally be visualised. Finding ways to stop these worms tunnelling may pave the way to preventing this disease.

Written by Sophie Arthur

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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