Image: Seven-year itch mite: Light microscopy image of a Sarcoptes scabiei, the mite that causes scabies (seven-year itch). Image ID 104672480, Shutterstock.
Original Published Date: 
Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Researchers at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, supported by ARC Linkage Project funding, have used cutting-edge genome technologies to reveal the genetic makeup of a widespread skin parasite causing serious health problems in Aboriginal communities. The research team identified the genetic ‘map’ of the human parasitic scabies mite, accelerating research that could lead to new ways of preventing and treating scabies infestations and prevent lifelong complications for people in remote Aboriginal communities. The research was led by Associate Professor Tony Papenfuss from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute and Dr Katja Fischer from the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute. Genomic technologies are critical for finding ways to prevent and control scabies, Associate Professor Papenfuss said. “A shocking seven out of 10 children in remote Aboriginal communities will contract scabies before they reach one year of age,” he said. Prior to this study, little was known about the genetic makeup of the scabies mite. Understanding the genetic makeup of the scabies mite would help identify how it becomes resistant to certain drugs and could suggest new strategies for development of novel therapeutics.

Media issued by the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research.

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