Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Resisting the barber pole worm

Researchers at West Virginia University (WVU) are studying the immune system of St. Croix sheep to figure out how this hair sheep, native to the U.S. Virgin Islands, resists the barber pole worm.

The barber pole worm (Haemonchus contortus) is a deadly, blood-sucking parasite that can kill quickly and silently. It has develop varying degrees of resistance to all commonly-used anthelmintics (dewormers).

Resistant St. Croix sheep at WVU
(image link:  Charleston Daily Mail)

West Virginia University received a $150,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to fund research on the parasites and sheep's response to them. Scott Bowdridge is the lead researcher. He began studying parasites while working on his doctorate at Virginia Tech.

Bowdridge is looking for a way to "wake up" domestic sheep's immunity to barber pole worms. He said the St. Croix sheep would offer some clues about which chemicals and protein signals trigger a response to the invaders.

Read Charleston Daily Mail article

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