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NIAID, Partners Sequence Genome of Worm that Causes Elephantiasis, River Blindness

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) - Researchers with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, the J. Craig Venter Institute, Johns Hopkins University and other partner institutions have completed a draft sequence of the genome of a parasitic worm that causes elephantiasis and river blindness and is common in South Asia and in Indonesia.
Brugia malayi is a worm of the type called filarial nematode, which has four larval stages and moves through two host types, humans and mosquitoes.
The researchers sequenced roughly 90 Mb of the genome, and predicted around 11,500 protein coding genes in around 71 Mb of "robustly assembled sequence," according to a report in this week’s issue of Science.
The teams assembled scaffolds totaling around 71 Mb of data, and the researchers estimate the genome to be around 90 Mb to 95 Mb.
By comparing the Brugi malayi genome to that of the previously sequenced Caenorhabditis elegans genome, the researchers found that "despite these genes having maintained little conservation of local synteny during 350 million years of evolution, they largely remain in linkage on chromosomal units."
Analysis of the predicted proteome, the report suggests, should "offer a foundation for rational drug design" to combat the illnesses for which it is responsible.
While drugs are currently available to combat the worm, they "often must be taken for years, and the worms can cause massive immune reactions when they die," the authors wrote.
Also, current drugs are limited in that they "target the larvae only and do not completely kill the adult worms."

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