What are diseases? What causes them? Are all diseases caused by bacteria and viruses? The answer to that question is no. While bacteria and viruses cause a fair amount of diseases, sometimes eukaryotic cells cause disease and illnesses too. Have you ever heard of a yeast infection? Yeast infections are not caused by any form of bacteria but by the eukaryotic fungus Candida albicans. While diseases such as Trichinella spiralis or heartworm, which is a disease commonly found in animals such as dogs, are caused by little tiny worms called helminths. While you may not know much about Eukaryotic pathogens they are some of the most common diseases out there.
All three of these articles talk about a disease that is caused by a eukaryotic pathogen. The first of the three articles is about the disease malaria, which is caused by a protozoan pathogen of the Plasmodium species. This article is talking about how the various stages of the development of Plasmodium are linked to epigenetics and how chromatin is structured in it. The article goes into detail about how this new understanding of the genome organization of Plasmodium can show new ways to created targeted approaches towards understanding parasite gene regulation. The second article also talked about parasites, except in this article the parasite explored was a worm not a protozoon. This article explored how the molecules called
Endocannabinoids affect worm infections. Endocannabinoids have similar pain reducing and anti-inflammatory features as the molecule cannabis which is also known as weed. Scientists have recently discovered that parasitic worms will use the protective pathway caused by Endocannabinoids to increase their chances of survival and mask the pain of the infection from the host. Although the type of eukaryotic pathogen changes between protozoans, worms and fungi. All three of these articles are about potentially huge breakthroughs in the studies of eukaryotic pathogens, and the third one of these articles Is definitely the scariest breakthrough. The main topic of the third article is a new fungal infection named Candida auris. Unlike Candida albicans or yeast infections that I mentioned at the beginning of this essay, this fungal infection is resistant to any type of treatment. This infection is spread in health care settings through equipment or beds, but it is rare that it will spread from patient to patient. Although there have been relatively few cases (only 24 in the us) all of them have been resistant to all three classes of anti-fungal medicine. One big difference between Candida auris and other fungal infections is that Candida auris can survive in dryness for a few days where most other fungal infections dry up and die without moisture. All three of these articles are very new having only been published within the last year so there is much left to discover about the potential breakthroughs made in them.
The scientist Karine La Roch who made the discovery on the protozoan pathogen Plasmodium and malaria, has just recently been given a 5 year 3.2 million dollar grant to continue her work on the chromatin structure of plasmodium. The scientists who studied the effects of Endocannabinoids on worm infections have been given grants to continue studying by the national institute of health and the UCR school of medicine. The scientists from the final article about the new fungal infection Candida albicans did not state whether or not they were going to continue studying this knew disease, but they did state that while it should not be a cause for public panic it should be respected as a possible new public health threat. I personally thought these articles were super interesting, although the last one did spark a little fear in me. I would love to see what happens with the chromatin study, maybe it can be the research we need to develop a cure for malaria. These articles just proved the point that although we may think bacteria or virus every time a new disease pops up, it is not always the case.