Researchers decode DNA of blood-sucking worms
Researchers have decoded the genome of a parasitic worm, which has affected 700 million of the world's poor.
Hookworm infections, which are caused by going barefoot in parts of Africa, Asia and South America
By feeding on victims' blood, the worms, which live in the soil, cause anemia and in case of kids, it causes stunted growth and learning problems.
Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have decoded the genome of the hookworm, Necator americanus.
Senior author Makedonka Mitreva said that deworming drug albendazole typically is given as part of mass treatment programs in areas with endemic infection, but its repeated and excessive use is leading to treatment failures and drug resistance in some regions
After the eggs hatch, the immature worms, called larvae, molt twice and enter the body through the feet and travel through the bloodstream to the lungs, where they are coughed up and then swallowed, making their way to the small intestine.
The worms soon mature and begin feeding on the blood.
Decoding the worm's genome allowed the researchers to discover suites of genes that orchestrate each of these processes and to identify specific targets that may be vulnerable to vaccines or new drug treatments.
The research is published in Nature Genetics on Jan. 19.
(Posted on 20-01-2014)