Molecular Genetic Tools for a Parasitic Helminth

parasites are relevant, fascinating organisms for biological and biomedical studies. The World Health Organization estimates that roughly half the world’s population and much of its livestock are infected with parasitic helminths. Half a billion people, most living in developing nations, suffer debilitating, sometimes fatal illnesses as a result of these infections. Moreover, the affects of helminth parasitism may be insidious, and childhood infections previously regarded as subclinical may actually bring about significant cognitive deficits in untold millions. Helminth parasites erode livestock production, often most profoundly in already famine-prone areas with marginal agriculture. Despite the impact of helminth parasites on human and animal health, there are essentially no vaccines against these agents and resistance threatens a dwindling armamentarium of safe and effective anthelminthic drugs. Modern molecular methods that have been used to identify and characterize molecular targets for rational drug and vaccine development in other disease systems, and which could be used for basic molecular and cellular biological studies are largely lacking for the parasitic helminths.

In an attempt to address this technology gap, the Ellison Medical Foundation has funded groups working at the University of Pennsylvania, the City University of New York, and at Tulane University to work together towards the development of experimental genetic systems for gene transfer and transient gene silencing in parasitic helminths. This website serves as a place for the early on-line communication of technical developments made by members of the group, and provides contact information for project participants. Readers are encouraged to acknowledge the website and the Ellison Medical Foundation when reporting data generated with the help of information at this site, and to communicate their own pertinent research experiences to Jason Correnti ( for posting on the site.

Ellison Medical Foundation