Sterile Schistosomes for Anthelmintic Therapy
Mostafa Zamanian of Iowa State University in the U.S. will take schistosomes, which are parasitic worms that cause a range of infectious diseases, make them sterile, and genetically modify them to deliver anti-parasitic (anthelmintic) agents into humans to protect them against subsequent infections. They will use genome editing, guided by RNA in the worms, to disrupt individual genes required for laying eggs in order to make the worms sterile and thereby non-pathogenic. They will also introduce transgenes that encode for anthelmintic molecules to inhibit parasitic species, including filarial nematodes and juvenile schistosomes, and test their efficacy using animal models. This biological vector system is advantageous as it will specifically target the relevant site in the body and could provide long lasting protection against a variety of parasitic infections.