WCIP Researcher Receives Wellcome Investigator Award

Published: 28 November 2019

Dr Lilach Sheiner receives the funding for her research on toxoplasmosis.

How do you run a conveyer belt production line when the belt is cut into pieces and the workers are in another room? The family of deadly apicomplexan parasites that cause diseases such as malaria and toxoplasmosis must overcome this challenge to survive. Mitochondria are energy-producing organelles within the cells of all biological organisms. The mitochondrion has to make its own building blocks for survival and in the case of apicomplexan parasites, for infection. But in these parasites, the "machine" that facilitates this process (the ribosome), has a fragmented scaffold (rRNA) and the "workers" (tRNAs) must be imported from outside the mitochondrion.

Dr Lilach Sheiner and her team have received a Wellcome Investigator Award to support their study of how this challenging process takes place in the Toxoplasma parasite, and to pinpoint parasite-specific features and structures that enable this essential process. Mitochondrial ribosomes are known targets for antibiotics, but the parasite sensitivity to these drugs differs from humans and other animals. Dr. Sheiner predicts that some of this work will provide insight that may help chemists understand how antibiotics can be modified to inhibit only parasite mitochondrial RNA and thus be used to treat these infections.

Lilach - news graphic

First published: 28 November 2019