More than 2 billion people around the world are infected with intestinal helminths, parasitic worms that can cause disease, complicate pregnancies, and stunt the growth of children. A number of drugs are currently used to treat hookworms, one of the most common helminths to infect humans, but many worry that prolonged use of the drugs could lead to drug-resistant worms. Now researchers have described a rapid test that can monitor hookworm DNA for drug resistance mutations.
Isothermal Diagnostic Assays for Monitoring Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms in Necator americanus Associated with Benzimidazole Drug Resistance. (2016) PLoS Negl Trop Dis 10(12): e0005113. doi: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0005113
Hookworms are amongst the major STHs and the second most prevalent intestinal hel- minth of humans. Large-scale treatment with the benzimidazoles (BZs) albendazole or mebendazole is the major control strategy against STHs in mass drug administration (MDA) programs. Prolonged and repeated treatment with the same anthelmintics has led to the emergence of widespread BZ resistance in veterinary parasites which is caused by a single nucleotide polymorphism at codon 200, 167 or 198 in the β-tubulin gene. There is a considerable concern that prolonged use of the same anthelmintics with suboptimal effi- cacy against hookworms, may select for resistant parasites and favour the development of resistance. We developed a novel genotyping assay to screen for β-tubulin polymorphisms in N. americanus, using the SmartAmp2 method. SmartAmp2 is a unique genotyping technology that detects a mutation under isothermal conditions with high specificity and sensitivity. The N. americanus SNP detection assay is rapid, sensitive and highly specific and has the potential to be used in the field for the detection of SNPs associated with BZ resistance.