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Molecular characterization of Toxoplasma gondii in vivo dissemination and its interaction with the placental barrier

The Sangare lab uses Toxoplasma as a model to determine how pathogens disseminate and cross the placental barrier. We hypothesize that Toxoplasma possesses sets of genes allowing it to disseminate and cross the placental barrier. The rationale of our research program is to characterize the critical steps of Toxoplasma-placenta interaction before the fetus’s infection, which will likely provide new drug and vaccine targets against congenital toxoplasmosis. To attain the overall objective, The Sangare lab investigates three independent projects:

  • Characterizing the molecular mechanism of Toxoplasma dissemination to the placenta.

  • Understanding the molecular mechanism of Toxoplasma survival in placental tissues.

  • Identification and characterization of Toxoplasma gene products that are essential to cross the placental barrier.

The results from this research program would reveal the mechanism by which a Toxoplasma and others TORCH pathogen reach and cross the placental barrier to infect the fetus. In addition, the results will provide a science-based framework for future drug targets and vaccine development to prevent Toxoplasma‘s vertical transmission.

Image: Stained Toxoplasma parasites in vacuole 

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