Global Health
5:40 pm
Tue May 21, 2013

Wash U To Engineer Bacteria To Kill Intestinal Parasites

An adult female roundworm (Ascaris lumbricoides) can reach over a foot in length.
Credit U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention

A Washington University researcher has received a $100,000 global health grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to support research focused on preventing the transmission of parasitic diseases in developing countries.

Although there are drugs to help kill parasitic worms and their eggs in the human body, stopping their transmission in the environment is challenging.

Washington University’s Tae Seok Moon will use the funding from the Gates Foundation to genetically engineer bacteria designed to kill parasite eggs in human feces.

The bacteria would be added to food and eaten. They would then reproduce in the human intestine, where parasitic worms lay their eggs.

Once excreted from the body, the bacteria would attack the parasite eggs, killing both themselves and the eggs in the process.

If the first phase of Moon’s research is successful, he will be eligible to receive up to $1 million in additional Gates Foundation funding.

Follow Véronique LaCapra on Twitter@KWMUScience