Published On: Tue, Jan 28th, 2014

Discussing ‘hookworm genome decoded’ with Washington University’s Dr. Makedonka Mitreva

A little over a week ago a paper was published in the journal, Nature Genetics which talked on the decoding of the genome of the hookworm, Necator americanus. The research involved contributors from around the globe , led by the team from The Genome Institute at Washington University, Washington University School of Medicine, Saint Louis, Missouri, USA.

Hookworm Image/CDC


I had the opportunity today to discuss hookworm infection and the significance of the research with lead author of the study, Assistant professor of medicine and genetics and a member of The Genome Institute at the Washington University School of Medicine, Dr. Makedonka Mitreva.

Dr. Mitreva began the interview laying out some detailed information about the hookworm to include pathology, transmission to humans, geographic distribution and treatment options.

She also noted that there is no vaccine available for preventing hookworm disease.

We then went into the research. When asked, “What did you learn from decoding the genome?”, Mitreva said, “Our approach, enabled an understanding of different aspects of how the hookworm invades the body, begins feeding on the blood and successfully evades the host immune defenses.

“Decoding the hookworm genome allows us to discover the combination of genes that orchestrate each of these processes. And identify specific targets that might be vulnerable to vaccine or drug treatments.”

Dr. Mitreva noted that the following medical advances can arise out of this knew knowledge–diagnostics of hookworm infections, anti-hookworm therapeutics and the use of hookworms as treatment for non-infectious diseases like autoimmune diseases and allergies.

Listen to the complete interview below:

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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63


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