September 20, 2020

Sequence the genome of two strains of the parasite that causes chagas disease

Sequence the genome of two strains of the parasite that causes chagas disease



Researchers from the Autonomous University of Madrid (UAM) have sequenced and assembled two new genomes of the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi, which causes Chagas' disease, one of the most neglected diseases on the planet.

The results, published in Scientific Reports, will help advance the investigation of this disease.

According to the World Health Organization, Chagas disease is one of the leading causes of death in Latin America – between 20,000 and 50,000 deaths per year.

In addition, it is estimated that there are 25 million people at risk, in endemic and non-endemic areas, which includes almost the entire American continent and part of Europe.

At the moment there is no cure and the available drugs tend to cause side effects that force patients to stop treatment.

Since the first genome sequence of Trypanosoma cruzi was published in 2005, scientists have found great genomic variability among the strains of this parasite but only a few genomes have been sequenced.

Now, thanks to the new technologies of massive sequencing and bioinformatic analysis, a team from the Autonomous University of Madrid has been able to assemble – starting from millions of sequences and as a great puzzle – two new genomes of Trypanosoma cruzi, managing to extract its information and biological meaning.

The two new genomes, described in Scienitific Reports, correspond to strains of great scientific interest.

"One of the strains is related to high levels of virulence, the other is a hybrid strain associated with vertical transmission of the disease (Bug2148)," the authors declare.

"This genomic comparison -aggregate- allowed us to identify the most probable genetic groups associated with the development of the disease and the infection process, as well as the identification of protein families exposed to constant evolution that give the parasite a biological advantage before the development of drugs "

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