IFGH 2010: Schistosomiasis: Exploring New Control targets Using Genomic Information

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November 30, 2010

Schistosomiasis is a neglected tropical disease caused by blood flukes of the genus Schistosoma, which have complex life cycles involving the definitive human and intermediate snail hosts. Despite concerted control efforts, 210 million people in 76 countries are still affected by the disease. There is an urgent need for development and deployment of new drugs, diagnostics and anti-schistosome vaccines to meet the prevailing challenges which includes drug resistant strains, re-infections and lack of early diagnostic tools. The recent publications of genomic sequences of Schistosoma mansoni and Schistosoma japonicum heralds new horizons in this endeavour. Functional genomics in combination with proteomics provide an invaluable insight in metabolic reconstruction of pathways and also in identification of metabolic chokepoints in the parasite. Combined with chemogenomics screening, the approaches can be used to identify parasite proteins for which existing drugs may be active, offering substantial cost benefits especially for a neglected disease such as schistosomiasis with constrained resources for drug development. This paper discusses the current challenges facing human schistosomiasis in developing worlds. It also explores the role of emerging genomics, proteomics and chemoinformatics approaches in accelerating identification and development of new drugs, vaccines and diagnostics for schistosomiasis control.

 

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