Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Parasites Week Egg-breaking Research
24 June 2014

Egg-breaking Research

Schistosomiasis is a disease caused by parasitic worms and most commonly occurs in Africa and South America. It affects over 200 million people worldwide, and is responsible for 300,000 deaths annually. Currently, only one drug, Praziquantel, is available to treat the infections caused by the entire Schistosoma species, and so new ways are needed to tackle the disease. Egg production is vital in the life cycle of Schistosoma, with female Schistosoma mansoni laying 300 eggs every day. With this in mind, researchers have investigated eggshell development on a molecular level, focusing on a gene called Smp14. Preventing translation of the gene’s code into protein disrupted eggshell formation – holes appeared in the shell and leaked the contents (pictured in blue). This approach to hindering egg development is a possible route for more effective treatment of the disease.

Written by Katie Panteli

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