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Thursday, May 1, 2014

Tsetse fly genome successfully parsed

he international research team managed to unravel the genetic code of tsetse flies, blood-sucking insects spreaders of the deadly African sleeping sickness, and hopes to use the biological secrets that fly to eradicate sleeping sickness.

Tsetse fly genome size twice that of the fruit fly genome but only one-tenth of the human genome. Tsetse flies have about 12,000 genes and the genetic code of 366 million. Fly bites that contain parasite microorganisms that causes sleeping sickness in sub-Saharan Africa and one form of the disease in animals that can destroy a herd of cattle.
Glossina palpalis and G. morsitans from Deutsches Colonial Lexicon 1920. Tsetse flies include all species of the genus Glossina. (Picture from: http://bit.ly/1nD1m14)
Tracking the tsetse fly genome demonstrated cornerstone of molecular biology strange: give birth to young mosquitoes and not lay eggs like other insects; larvae feed in the uterus with one form of milk; attracted to the color blue and black; and only eat blood.

The findings of the genetic blueprint of flies was the culmination of a decade of effort is worth millions of dollars that involves more than 140 scientists from 78 research institutions in 18 countries.

The scientists are optimistic that the genetic blueprint that flies could lead to the discovery of new ways to combat the tsetse fly, such as the discovery of chemicals that can affect the reproductive process, or how to fix a trap to kill the flies.

"As with other inventions, there will be a new lead that we can see today. Biological aspects of unique I am optimistic that the tsetse fly will bring us to new methods to combat the disease," said one researcher, Daniel Masiga, molecular biologists from the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology in Kenya.

"If you can come up with a specific inhibitor of tsetse reproduction that can not be poisoned mammals, it would be ideal," added another researcher, biologist Geoffrey Attardo of the Yale School of Public Health, as reported by Reuters news agency.

Tsetse flies has been a mystery for humans for thousands of years. They've been there a lot longer than humans. A fossil tsetse fly found in Colorado, for example, comes from the past 34 million years ago.

African sleeping sickness, also called trypanosomiasis, is a tropical disease that is spread widely across sub-Saharan Africa and can be fatal if not immediately get treatment.

In animals, the flies that carry disease called nagana. It causes losses of billions of dollars and force the ranchers maintain lean cattle that produce less milk and meat but resistant parasites, said Matthew Berriman tropical disease researchers from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in the UK.

Flies were not born with the parasite but to swallow it when it bites an infected person or animal blood sucking to eat. The fly parasite spread through saliva when it bites another victim.

The parasite that causes sleeping sickness, which is at an advanced stage attacks the central nervous system and cause changes in the biological clock (circadian rhythm), personality changes, confusion, slurred speech, seizures and difficulty walking and talking.

"Sleeping sickness threatens millions of people in 36 countries of sub-Saharan Africa," said John Reeder, who led the research and training programs in the treatment of tropical diseases the World Health Organization (WHO).

"Many of the affected population living in remote areas with limited access to adequate health care facilities, which complicates monitoring and diagnosis and treatment of cases," he added. 
In recent years, various public health efforts made to cut cases and deaths from the disease. WHO said the disease "has entered the elimination phase." According to WHO data, there were 5,967 cases reported last year, much lower than the number of cases in 2000 reached 26,574.

Now the disease prevention efforts focused on controlling the fly population because according to the experts thought would not allow the use of the vaccine was given parasites evade the immune system of mammals.

Sleeping sickness caused far fewer infections and deaths than any other tropical disease transmitted by mosquitoes such as malaria and dengue. In mosquitoes, only the females suck blood and uses protein to lay eggs. While tsetse flies, both males and females suck blood for food.

In a study that published in the Science journal, experts say tsetse flies are also more easily targeted than mosquitoes. In one case, the female mosquito can produce more than 100 eggs spawn once while doubling the population of tsetse slower because they only give birth to one larva in a single reproductive cycle. *** [EKA | FROM VARIOUS SOURCES | REUTERS]
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