The parasite that causes African sleeping sickness can't survive in the mammalian bloodstream without its tail, scientists report. The finding could lead to novel ways to fight this disease.
Trypanosoma brucei has a two-part life cycle in which it inhabits the tsetse fly and then a mammal. Although the parasite takes on slightly different forms in these two hosts, both forms have a long, whiplike tail called a flagellum.
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