Parsing Parasites

Parsing Parasites

There are certain 'parasites' that cause numerous deadly diseases and some of these diseases can prove to be fatal to human beings. For example, the deadly Chagas' disease, African sleeping sickness, and the leishmaniasis are all caused by mere parasites. It is an amazing fact that these diseases are transmitted by certain common bloodsucking insects such as the tsetse fly and the 'kissing bug' found in tropical and sub-tropical populations, and these diseases alone are held responsible for the deaths of more than 125,000 people every single year, and the worst part is that the patient becomes so very badly disfigured that he becomes ostracized form the rest of society for his entire remaining lifetime. Blood banks are also compromised because of this disease. (Parsing Parasites: genomes of three tropical parasites are sequenced) Research is being conducted today at a serious level, on the DNA sequences of these deadly parasites, and the findings may help to better handle the fight against these diseases caused by parasites.

As a matter of fact, some findings were released recently, and these stated the DNA sequencing of the three parasites 'Trypanosoma cruzi, 'T. brucei' and 'Leishmania major'. These three parasites are collectively referred to as the 'Tritryps', and there is neither any vaccine available against them, nor does there exist any suitable treatment for the diseases caused by them. The medicines that are available today as a part of the treatment for the patient afflicted with the disease are generally quite toxic and extremely difficult to administer, and more often than not, according to a report by the World Health Organization, it will not be successful. The older treatments, dating back to the 1940's, were based on arsenic and antimony, and today, there are different methods, but with extremely limited efficiency. (Parsing Parasites: genomes of three tropical parasites are sequenced)

Geneticists today have discovered many thousands of mutations that are responsible for various diseases in human beings, and among these the so called 'founder mutations' stand apart. The reason for this is that many victims of genetic diseases die before they have a chance to reproduce and thus spread the disease to the next generation, but the sad fact is that n many cases, the founder mutations quite often spare the actual carrier of the disease and pass on to the next generation, and many disorders may result form these mutations. (Founder Mutations)

According to Najib el Sayed, a parasitologist at the Institute for Genomic Research in Rockville MD, disease causing parasites are in general 'neglected' parasites that affect impoverished populations of the world more than the affluent. (Parsing Parasites: genomes of three tropical parasites are sequenced) If the DNA sequence were to be discovered, then the treatment for diseases caused by such neglected parasites as explained above would become much easier, and more numbers of impoverished people of underdeveloped countries may be saved. The article on "Parsing Parasites" by Kaspar Mossman talks exactly about this issue, and the information that is available today. The article shows that this type of scientific investigation and research is very important, especially in light of today's world, where globalization is taking place at a rapid rate, and people are inter-mingling with each other as never before. If such relevant information about parasites and their DNA sequences were to be distributed to the public, then it would prove to be extremely beneficial to common man in his desperate fight against the various deadly diseases of today.

This is why when the L major was to be sequenced; the concerned scientists used the 'shotgun' method, whereby the DNA from each chromosome was chopped into small bits, and all the resulting fragments were sequenced separately. Afterwards, all the separate segments would be assembled into the entire chromosome like a giant jigsaw puzzle. For the T. bruci, scientists were able to sequence the DNA by using a combination of the shotgun method and the 'chromosome walking' method, whereby lengthier bits of the DNA were stitched together, starting from the middle of the chromosome, outwards. The DNA of T. cruzi, the agent of Chagas' disease, was however very difficult to decode, due to a variety of reasons. The first reason was that scientists did not know exactly how many chromosomes T. cruzi did have; this made them use the whole genome shotgun strategy for sequencing of its DNA. (Parsing Parasites: genomes of three tropical parasites are sequenced) What has been achieved by…