Research aimed at understanding how lice feed off humans may lead to new methods to control the blood-sucking pest that can transmit fatal diseases.
Genetic research conducted by Purdue researcher Barry Pittendrigh may "ultimately lead to some real long-term benefits for Indiana and throughout the world," according to the assistant professor of entomology. Purdue scientists have identified the first gene in lice that kills bacteria that threatens the insect. (Purdue Agricultural Communications photo/Tom Campbell)
In the November issue of the journal Insect Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, Purdue and Harvard university researchers report finding lice genes that control the breakdown of their human blood meal into energy and waste. They also identified the first gene in lice that may impact the insects ability to fight off bacterial infections. The study is currently on the journals Web site.
"This research eventually may lead to long-term human health benefits for people throughout the world," said Barry Pittendrigh, assistant professor of entomology and senior author of the study. "We need to develop novel strategies for controlling these pests. Body lice raise significant health concerns in developing countries, and head lice afflict children in North America and elsewhere."
Susan A. Steeves | Purdue News
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