Biology & Nature
Scientists have sequenced the genome of the parasite that causes intestinal schistosomiasis (also known as bilharzia or snail fever), a devastating tropical disease that afflicts more than 200 million people in the developing world.
Schistosomiasis is one of several neglected tropical diseases prevalent across much of Africa, Asia, and South America and affects mainly poor populations living in areas where water is unsafe, sanitation inadequate, and basic health care unavailable.
It impacts adults and children’s capacity to work and learn, and often leads to death.
Knowing this parasite’s genome sequence, scientists will now be able to develop much-needed new treatments for schistosomiasis, for which a vaccine does not yet exist.
The drug commonly used to treat this parasitic infection does not prevent re-infection, and there are growing reports of drug resistance and treatment failures.
University of Maryland