Snail researchers target parasitic disease

Published: Comments:
Animals Wildlife or Pets Environment Science & Research University & TAFE

Social:   
USC’s Dr Scott Cummins is researching the biology of several snail species

A five-member genetic research team from the University of the Sunshine Coast is part of an international collaboration that has identified the complete DNA set of a freshwater snail notorious for transmitting a deadly parasitic disease to people in developing nations.

USC Associate Professor of Molecular Biology Scott Cummins said the Biomphalaria glabrata snail hosted a parasitic flatworm, known as a blood fluke, that could be transmitted to humans via skin contact in contaminated waterways.

Dr Cummins said the joint paper, published globally overnight, could help find new ways to reduce the human incidence of schistosomiasis, or “snail fever”, by preventing the snails from hosting the worms in the first place.

Schistosomiasis is a tropical disease ranked second to malaria. It kills more than 200,000 people every year in developing countries, especially in Africa. More than 207 million people are infected.

The paper, ‘Whole genome analysis of a schistosomiasis-transmitting freshwater snail’, was published overnight in the Nature Communications journal.

“This was an exciting project led by the University of New Mexico and involving the expertise of researchers across the Americas, Europe and Asia,” said Dr Cummins, of USC’s GeneCology Research Centre.

“The work in Australia involved a collaboration with Professor Don McManus at the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute in Brisbane, which can house the snails for research.

“My team, which specialises in olfactory communication in aquatic animals, included colleagues Dr Tianfang Wang and Dr Min Zhao, with PhD student Di Liang and Honours student Bronwyn Rotgans.

“We wanted to know what the snail smells like to the parasite, and how the snail uses its own sense of smell.

“We discovered that pheromones released by the snail may be used by the parasite to locate the host snail.

“We also identified the olfactory receptors used by the snail to smell, and the neurohormones used by the snail to reproduce and grow.”

Dr Cummins said there was potential for science to change these pheromones, receptors or neurohormones to prevent the parasite from entering the host snail.

“With the World Health Organisation aiming to eliminate schistosomiasis as a global health problem by 2025, there is renewed emphasis on snail control,” he said.

“Our research will be ongoing, and could expand to numerous other parasite diseases that require a snail host.”

For details of the paper, go to http://rdcu.be/r166

 
University Of The Sunshine Coast : View Full Profile
90 Sippy Downs Drive, Sippy Downs
07 5430 1234
University Of The Sunshine Coast
Showing 10+ recent articles for this business
New clinical trials target bowel disease 18 September 2017 | The USC Clinical Trials Centre has partnered with specialists from Coastal Digestive Health at Maroochydore to conduct research into investigational medications for Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). More information...
USC Honorary Doctor named as CNN Hero 14 September 2017 | Renowned wildlife biologist and USC Honorary Doctor Wong Siew Te has been recognised by global television network CNN for his tireless work to protect the endangered South-East Asian sun bear. More information...
USC hosts workshop for girl gamers in Gympie 12 September 2017 | Gympie girls are invited to explore the world of gaming as part of a free holiday workshop by USC designed to inspire the next generation of information technology specialists. More information...
USC students step up as sport statisticians 12 September 2017 | Two USC Sport and Exercise Science students have become sought-after match statisticians for some of the world’s biggest international netball tournaments. More information...
Excitement builds ahead of USC's Outstanding Alumni Awards 07 September 2017 | Excitement is building ahead of the University of the Sunshine Coast’s annual Outstanding Alumni Awards ceremony that will be held on campus on Thursday 21 September. More information...
USC exhibition to celebrate generous donations 07 September 2017 | A stunning selection of artwork donated to the University of the Sunshine Coast over the past 20 years will go on display at the USC Art Gallery on Friday 15 September at 6.30pm. More information...
International role for respected USC microbiologist 07 September 2017 | A USC academic recognised internationally for her research on antibiotic-producing bacteria has been elected to lead an organisation responsible for preserving the world’s microorganism cultures. More information...
USC students head to India for law competition 05 September 2017 | Final-year students Kayla Bucknall, 24, and Codi Dalley, 25, will compete against university students from around the world at the HSF-NLU Delhi International Negotiation Competition from 8-10 September. More information...
USC project to help make Qld the Sports State 04 September 2017 | The starter’s gun has fired on a new USC campaign to share the Sunshine Coast’s sporting research, facilities and education with the world. More information...
USC leads bushfire risk trial in national research project 31 August 2017 | Researchers from the University of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland are leading one of three major trials across Australia aimed at reducing the risk of bushfire damage to our built and natural environments. More information...



Social:   
comments powered by Disqus

All articles submitted by third parties or written by My Sunshine Coast come under our Disclaimer / Terms of Service