Lab Rat Chat - Episode 18 with Dr. Laura Knoll, Professor of Medical Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Wisconsin – Madison.
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In this episode of Lab Rat Chat, Dr. Laura Knoll joined the show to talk about her super important and interesting research involving parasites, including Toxoplasma gondii. This parasite cause toxoplasmosis and it can have devastating effects on humans, especially in pregnant women and to their unborn babies. Laura provides our listeners with some background information on this parasite, how to avoid it, and how her lab is able to conduct groundbreaking research with it utilizing a mouse model in the laboratory.
Topics discussed in this episode:
· Laura’s extensive background and experience throughout her education and career.
· What exactly toxoplasmosis is, and why the public should be concerned about this parasite.
· Laura’s incredible research helping to understand more about Toxoplasma gondii and ways to help those affected by it.
· Alternatives to animal models and how Laura’s lab abides by the principles of refinement, reduction, and replacement to her research.
“The public should be concerned because this is a really, really common parasite in humans. It is the reason pregnant women aren’t supposed to handle cats or cat litter, and it’s because toxoplasma has it’s sexual cycle limited to the feline intestine."
“We were able to figure that out and take it one step further, because no one wanted to use cats in research. We were able to inhibit the enzyme in mice, and give them a linoleic acid rich diet and get the sexual cycle to occur in mice, and now the mice will poop out infectious oocysts just like the cat.”
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Resources & Links:
· Centers for Disease Control – Toxoplasmosis (https://www.cdc.gov/parasites/toxoplasmosis/gen_info/faqs.html)
Americans for Medical Progress (https://www.amprogress.org/)
· Americans for Medical Progress COVID-19 Resources (https://www.amprogress.org/covid-19-resources/)
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