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The World in Medicine
August 17, 2005

Decoding Parasite Genomes

JAMA. 2005;294(7):787. doi:10.1001/jama.294.7.787-b

An international team of nearly 250 scientists from 21 countries has sequenced the genomes of three species of parasitic protozoa that collectively cause disease in and kill millions of individuals in the developing world every year. The findings, which are expected to help the development of drugs and vaccines for these infections, were reported in a group of articles published in the July 15 issue of Science.

There are no vaccines to prevent disease caused by the three parasites, Trypanosoma brucei (which causes sleeping sickness), Trypanosoma cruzi (which causes Chagas disease), and Leishmania major (which causes leishmaniasis). The few drugs that are currently available are considered inadequate due to toxicity and resistance.