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Tapeworms: Genome Mapped

Mar 15, 2013

For the first time, scientists have mapped the entire genome of four tapeworm species. Their publication in "Nature" magazine reveals new weak spots of the parasites – they seem to be susceptible to standard cancer drugs.

Tapeworms live in the intestines and absorb nutrients from their hosts without doing any major harm. Their larvae, in contrast, are much more dangerous. They can migrate to the liver, lung, brain or other organs and form cysts in these tissues which can grow to the size of a handball. These cysts can have severe consequences for the infected persons, such as blindness, epilepsy, liver failure and even death.

Professor Klaus Brehm of the University of Würzburg estimates that several hundred million people worldwide are infected by tapeworms – especially in the tropics, and especially in regions where people live closely together with animals under poor hygienic conditions. According to Brehm, no therapy is presently available that reliably kills the dangerous tapeworm larvae.

 

Contact:
Prof. Dr. Klaus Brehm, Institut für Hygiene und Mikrobiologie, Universität Würzburg, phone +49(0)931) 31-46168, kbrehm@hygiene.uni-wuerzburg.de

 

“The genomes of four tapeworm species reveal adaptations to parasitism”, Nature, March 13, 2013, DOI: 10.1038/nature12031

 

http://idw-online.de/en/news523677

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