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Three Tropical Parasites Genetic Code Unravelled

Scientists have now cracked the genetic makeup three fatal diseases –sleeping sickness, leishmaniasis //and Chagas disease that are caused by Trypanosoma brucei, Leishmania major and Trypanosoma cruzi. The three diseases have mostly been to affect people in tropical countries. It is estimated that they affect about half a billion people worldwide and claim more than 150,000 lives annually.

A study conducted by National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) of National Institutes of Health has been published in Science journal.

“Although relatively unfamiliar in the United States, the collective misery caused by these diseases throughout the world is considerable. Having these genomes in hand will give us many new targets for drug and vaccine development,” Anthony S Fauci, director of NIAID said in an interview.

“One of the biggest surprises to come out of the genome sequencing projects is that these parasites – despite major differences in how they are spread and how they cause disease – nevertheless have a core of 6,200 genes in common,” said Martin John Rogers, of NIAID’s Parasitology and International Programs Branch.

Sanjeev Krishna, of St George’s Hospital in London who was one of the authors of the study said that 60 million Africans are affected by sleeping sickness annually. “Perhaps only one in 20 of these will have the chance to access medical care of even the most rudimentary sort,” he said, adding, “Treating sleeping sickness is like a form of medical Russian Roulette because you don’t know who will be saved or killed by the treatment available” He further added that since the sequencing program is completed the hunt will now be on to concentrate on finding the ‘magic bullet’ medicines that will help eradicate these diseases.

“Among these 6,200 genes that need further characterization, there are a good 40 or 50 that definitely appear not to be shared with any other life form so far s
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