The genome of a rare parasitic worm has been recently mapped by the scientists, which was dwelling in the head of a 50 year old British man since four years. The person was suffering from headaches and experiencing strange smells. It is a rare ribbon shaped tapeworm that infects humans and other animals. Its genome mapping has been appreciated by the scientific community as it gives it an opportunity to understand its lifestyle and characteristics which in turn might prove helpful in its detection and treatment.
Discovered in 1953, the worm named Spirometra erinaceieuropaei has marked only 300 appearances since its discovery, with two previous cases in Europe. Co-author of the study, Matt Berriman from the Sanger Institute elaborated “for this uncharted group of tapeworms, this is the first genome to be sequenced and has allowed us to make some predictions about the likely activity of known drugs.”
As the worm digs in through the brain, the individual suffers from headaches, memory loss and seizures. In this case of the British man, it had traveled for two inches since the time it had inhabited. Its genome has been found to be one third of the size of human genome. A large number of genes are present in its repetitive and large genome which works to invade the host and defend the worm against rejection. The worm can even grow up to a length of five feet inside intestinal tracks of cats and dogs.
It was 2012, when the 1 centimeter long worm was removed from the head of the British man through surgery and the researchers have reported the well being of the patient after surgery. Although the actual origin of the worm and its mode of infection have not been identified yet, raw reptile and amphibian meat are considered as carriers.