Entamoeba histolytica: This infectious amoeba is prevalent in developing nations with sub-standard sanitation and causes dysentery in as many as 50,000,000 people annually.

Entamoeba histolytica: This infectious amoeba is prevalent in developing nations with sub-standard sanitation and causes dysentery in as many as 50 million people annually.

CLEMSON, S.C. — A Clemson University scientist was awarded a two-year, $147,157 grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health, to find a cure for an infectious disease.

Lesly Temesvari, Alumni Distinguished Professor in Clemson’s biological sciences department and researcher in Clemson’s Eukaryotic Pathogens Innovation Center (EPIC), works on the stress response in the human pathogen, Entamoeba histolytica. This infectious amoeba is prevalent in developing nations with substandard sanitation. It causes dysentery in as many as 50 million people annually.

“During infection in the human host, the parasite likely confronts stress brought on by the host environment and immune response,” said Temesvari. “To survive and cause infection, the parasite must circumvent these external pressures. Thus, it may be useful to interrupt the pathogen’s stress response for therapy.”

Her research will use state-of-the-art molecular and cellular biology approaches to characterize the stress response in the parasite, which may reveal new targets for drug design.

Temesvari’s research also furthers the primary mission of EPIC, an interdisciplinary research cooperative, which was founded at Clemson in February 2013. EPIC stands at the forefront of biomedical research on eukaryotic pathogens, which are the causative agents of some of the most devastating and intractable diseases of humans, including malaria, amoebic dysentery, sleeping sickness, Chagas disease and fungal meningitis. Globalization has resulted in an increase in such infections in the U.S., and many eukaryotic pathogens are classified as bioterrorism agents and/or neglected tropical diseases.

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This material is based upon work supported by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases of the National Institutes of Health under grant no. R03AI107950. Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Institutes of Health.