The draft genome sequence of the hookworm, the most common soil-transmitted parasitic worm, which can infect humans and other animals, is reported in Nature Genetics.
Soil transmitted parasitic worms, called helminths, are a major cause of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), affecting an estimated 1-2 billion individuals worldwide. These parasitic worms are transmitted through contaminated soil and live in the intestines of their animal host. An estimated 700 million individuals worldwide are infected with hookworm, causing a range of possible symptoms including clinical anaemia, malnutrition during pregnancy, as well as impaired cognitive and/or physical development in children.
Makedonka Mitreva and colleagues sequenced the genome of the human hookworm Necator americanus. They characterize genes involved in infection of and interaction with the human host, blood feeding and development, and use this to prioritize candidate genes for drug targets and new interventions. They also use a protein microarray to screen blood of infected individuals and identify antigens that are potential targets of anti-hookworm immune responses.