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Killer parasites' genes decoded

BBC NEWS | Health | Killer parasites’ genes decoded.

Scientists have decoded the genetic blueprint of two parasitic flatworms responsible for thousands of deaths worldwide every year.

Researchers working on the genetic blueprint of S. masoni, the most widespread of the schistosomiasis parasites, found that it was made up of 11,809 genes – about 10 times the size of the malaria parasite genome.

In particular, they identified a large number of genes which produce enzymes that break down proteins, giving the parasite its ability bore through tissue.

Subsequent analysis revealed 120 enzymes that could potentially be targeted with drugs to disrupt the worm’s metabolism.

The researchers also identified 66 drugs already on the market which might also be effective against schistosomiasis.

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