Entamoeba histolytica, one of the three top parasitic killers world-wide, and the cause of the amoebic dysentery that infects 50 million people annually, has found a formidable opponent. Dr. Lesly Temesvari, professor in the Department of Biological Sciences has been funded by the National Institutes of Health to study the basic science of how this menace feeds itself and avoids the immune system of its host. Understanding the cell biology of the pathogen and the basic science of the infection process will lead to the development of a vaccine or drug therapy to stop this pathogen.
Drs. Feng Chen and Xi Wang in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition are working with collaborators at the University of South Carolina, the Medical University of South Carolina and the Coastal Research and Education Center to evaluate the anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, anti-cancer, anti-diabetic, and performance enhancement properties of several natural botanical extracts from plants including muscadine grapes, African medicinal plants, cotton plants, and bitter melon.
Dr. Susan Chapman, a developmental neurobiologist in the Department of Biological Sciences, seeks to unlock a puzzle: How do cells in an embryo develop into the elaborate structure of the ear? Studying chicken embryos, Chapman and her research team are looking at where the cells that form the middle ear come from and what genetic signals the cells get to build the structures. Chapman is optimistic that the research will provide a way to reduce and prevent some hearing losses. About three in 1,000 babies are born with hearing impairment, making it one of the most common birth defects. Chapman has received a $1 million grant from the US National Institutes of Health to support her work.
In some areas of sub-Saharan Africa, sleeping sickness (Trypanosoma brucei) causes more deaths than HIV/AIDS. The disease occurs primarily in rural areas and areas affected by war and dislocation where access to healthcare is limited or not available. Once nearly eliminated, this deadly disease is now back and it kills not only people, but the livestock they depend on for food. Dr. James Morris of the Department of Genetics and Biochemistry and his research team focus on one enzyme essential to life for this single-celled parasite. Further research will target the development of new, effective drugs to prevent and control this disease
A fruit used in traditional Polynesian folk medicine for more than 2,000 years has been found to have the ability to destroy cancerous tumors in laboratory conditions. Dr. Yanzhang Wei, professor in the Department of Biological Sciences and assistant director of Clemson University Biomedical Institute (CUBI) has discovered that certain components from the extract of the Noni fruit (Morinda citrifolia) stimulate the immune system’s first line of defense against cancer and show great promise as a cancer-fighting agent.