Parasitic nematode infections show a characteristic grouping among hosts, but the genes that predispose humans to these infections remain unknown. In April 16 online Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences, Sarah Williams-Blangero and colleagues from Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research show that genes on chromosomes 1 and 13 are significant for the human infection with the roundworm Ascaris lumbricoides (Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 2002, 99:5533-5538).

Williams-Blangero et al. performed a genome scan on 444 individuals from the genetically isolated Jirel population of eastern Nepal, 27.2% of whom were naturally infected with Ascaris worms. The variance components linkage analysis resulted in the unequivocal localization of two genes (one on chromosome 1 and another on chromosome 13) with clear, significant effects on susceptibility to Ascaris infection.

"Ultimately, identifying the specific genes involved in susceptibility to roundworm infection may suggest new biological pathways to be targeted by pharmacological treatment...

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