Research done at UNM could eliminate deadly parasitic disease

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE)- Research that is being done right here in New Mexico could save the lives of hundreds of millions of people around the world.

Researchers are now one step closer to eliminating the parasitic disease called Schistosomiasis or snail fever. This as Associate Biology Professor Coenraad Adema believes they’ve found how both snails and the deadly parasite interact.

Adema says the parasite essentially takes over the snail’s body. When it comes into contact with humans, the parasite then attaches itself to humans before migrating toward the blood vessels near the liver.

Recently, he and his team of researchers have discovered new leads that have led them to better understand the snail’s genetic makeup.

One of which is knowing how these snails communicate with each other. That means if they could interfere with that, the snails wouldn’t be able to find each other or reproduce which means fewer snails and fewer parasites.
Their other lead is that the parasite may know the language of the snails.

“We also have indications that the parasite knows the language of the snail and it uses the same chemical clues that snails talk to each other with to find the snails in the environment. If the parasite doesn’t find the snail, then they can’t infect them and the snail can’t transmit the parasite to humans,” said Adema.

Adema says there are also effective drugs that are one time treatments but don’t protect against re-infection. He says coupling those drugs with controlling the snails in the environment could potentially eliminate the disease by 2025.

Adema says snail fever is only a disease that affects countries of poverty and that there is no danger of seeing it here in the United States.

To see the research, click here.

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