Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Decoded: DNA of blood-sucking worm that infects world's poor

20.01.2014
Going barefoot in parts of Africa, Asia and South America contributes to hookworm infections, which afflict an estimated 700 million of the world's poor.

The parasitic worm lives in the soil and enters the body through the feet. By feeding on victims' blood, the worms cause anemia and, in children, stunted growth and learning problems.


Researchers have decoded the genome of the hookworm, Necator americanus, finding clues to how it infects and survives in humans and to aid in development of new therapies. An estimated 700 million people worldwide are infected with hookworms, which feed on blood, causing anemia and, in children, stunted growth and learning problems.

Credit: Peter Durbin

Now, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have decoded the genome of the hookworm, Necator americanus, finding clues to how it infects and survives in humans and to aid in development of new therapies to combat hookworm disease.

The research is published Jan. 19 in Nature Genetics.

"We now have a more complete picture of just how this worm invades the body, begins feeding on the blood and successfully evades the host immune defenses," said senior author Makedonka Mitreva, PhD, assistant professor of medicine and of genetics and a member of The Genome Institute at the School of Medicine. "This information will accelerate development of new diagnostic tools and vaccines against the infection."

Necator americanus causes about 85 percent of human hookworm infections, which are not usually fatal. However, in pregnant women, the worm can cause severe anemia, leading to maternal deaths and low birth weights that contribute to newborn deaths.

The 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, Mitreva said.

Hookworms are common in areas of extreme poverty that lack indoor plumbing. The worm's eggs are excreted in the feces of infected individuals, contaminating the soil. After the eggs hatch, the immature worms, called larvae, molt twice and enter the body through the feet. The worms travel through the bloodstream to the lungs, where they are coughed up and then swallowed, making their way to the small intestine. It is there that the worms mature and begin feeding on the blood.

As part of the new research, the scientists took a multipronged approach to understand different aspects of how the hookworm invades the body, feeds on the blood and evades the host's immune system.

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.

"We also prioritized those drug targets so that scientists can quickly follow up on the ones that appear to be most promising," Mitreva said.

While causing significant illness in developing countries, hookworms are garnering attention in the United States and other industrial countries for their therapeutic potential in the treatment of autoimmune conditions, such as inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis, asthma and even allergies.

As part of their research, the scientists identified a group of molecules that appears to protect the worm from detection by the host immune system.

Hookworms evade notice by suppressing molecules that promote inflammation. This same approach may prove valuable in the treatment of autoimmune conditions.

"It is our hope that the new research can be used as a springboard not just to control hookworm infections but to identify anti-inflammatory molecules that have the potential to advance new therapies for autoimmune and allergic diseases," Mitreva said.

The research is funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Australian Research Council and the National Health and Medical Research Council.

Tang YT, Gao X, Loukas A, Mitreva M. et al. Genome of the human hookworm Necator americanus. Nature Genetics. Jan. 19, 2014.

Washington University School of Medicine's 2,100 employed and volunteer faculty physicians also are the medical staff of Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children's hospitals. The School of Medicine is one of the leading medical research, teaching and patient-care institutions in the nation, currently ranked sixth in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Through its affiliations with Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children's hospitals, the School of Medicine is linked to BJC HealthCare.

Caroline Arbanas | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.wustl.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht An evolutionary heads-up – The brain size advantage
22.05.2015 | Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien

nachricht Endocrine disrupting chemicals in baby teethers
21.05.2015 | Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Basel Physicists Develop Efficient Method of Signal Transmission from Nanocomponents

Physicists have developed an innovative method that could enable the efficient use of nanocomponents in electronic circuits. To achieve this, they have developed a layout in which a nanocomponent is connected to two electrical conductors, which uncouple the electrical signal in a highly efficient manner. The scientists at the Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel have published their results in the scientific journal “Nature Communications” together with their colleagues from ETH Zurich.

Electronic components are becoming smaller and smaller. Components measuring just a few nanometers – the size of around ten atoms – are already being produced...

Im Focus: IoT-based Advanced Automobile Parking Navigation System

Development and implementation of an advanced automobile parking navigation platform for parking services

To fulfill the requirements of the industry, PolyU researchers developed the Advanced Automobile Parking Navigation Platform, which includes smart devices,...

Im Focus: First electrical car ferry in the world in operation in Norway now

  • Siemens delivers electric propulsion system and charging stations with lithium-ion batteries charged from hydro power
  • Ferry only uses 150 kilowatt hours (kWh) per route and reduces cost of fuel by 60 percent
  • Milestone on the road to operating emission-free ferries

The world's first electrical car and passenger ferry powered by batteries has entered service in Norway. The ferry only uses 150 kWh per route, which...

Im Focus: Into the ice – RV Polarstern opens the arctic season by setting course for Spitsbergen

On Tuesday, 19 May 2015 the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its home port in Bremerhaven, setting a course for the Arctic. Led by Dr Ilka Peeken from the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) a team of 53 researchers from 11 countries will investigate the effects of climate change in the Arctic, from the surface ice floes down to the seafloor.

RV Polarstern will enter the sea-ice zone north of Spitsbergen. Covering two shallow regions on their way to deeper waters, the scientists on board will focus...

Im Focus: Gel filled with nanosponges cleans up MRSA infections

Nanoengineers at the University of California, San Diego developed a gel filled with toxin-absorbing nanosponges that could lead to an effective treatment for skin and wound infections caused by MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), an antibiotic-resistant bacteria. This "nanosponge-hydrogel" minimized the growth of skin lesions on mice infected with MRSA - without the use of antibiotics. The researchers recently published their findings online in Advanced Materials.

To make the nanosponge-hydrogel, the team mixed nanosponges, which are nanoparticles that absorb dangerous toxins produced by MRSA, E. coli and other...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International symposium: trends in spatial analysis and modelling for a more sustainable land use

20.05.2015 | Event News

15th conference of the International Association of Colloid and Interface Scientists

18.05.2015 | Event News

EHFG 2015: Securing health in Europe. Balancing priorities, sharing responsibilities

12.05.2015 | Event News

 
Latest News

Mesoporous Particles for the Development of Drug Delivery System Safe to Human Bodies

22.05.2015 | Materials Sciences

Computing at the Speed of Light

22.05.2015 | Information Technology

Development of Gold Nanoparticles That Control Osteogenic Differentiation of Stem Cells

22.05.2015 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>