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A Parasitic flatworm infecting over 15 million with no vaccine

Updated: May 21, 2020

Parasitic flatworms cause substantial death and disease in humans. The Chinese liver fluke, Clonorchis sinensis, is one of the most destructive parasitic worms in humans in China, Vietnam, Korea and the Russian Far East. Read more about Chinese liver flukes on Wikipedia.

Banchob Sripa, Sasithorn Kaewkes, Paiboon Sithithaworn, Eimorn Mairiang, Thewarach Laha, Michael Smout, Chawalit Pairojkul, Vajaraphongsa Bhudhisawasdi, Smarn Tesana, Bandit Thinkamrop, Jeffrey M. Bethony, Alex Loukas & Paul J. Brindley / CC BY (

Although C. sinensis infection can be controlled relatively well using drugs (anthelmintics), the worm can cause cancer (cholangiocarcinoma) and causes major suffering in ~ 15 million people infected in Asia. No vaccine is available to prevent parasite infection, and humans have no resistance to reinfection.

To better control this flatworm, research has been conducted on the molecular biology of the parasite, focused on diagnosis and treatment. A deep understanding of the fluke’s molecular biology is underpinned by characterizing its genome. Today, we release an chromosome-length genome assembly for C. sinensis, produced using our existing short read assembly and new Hi-C data. The new assembly will provide a basis to conduct in-depth molecular studies of C. sinensis and broader comparative genomics and genetics of flatworms.

Read more here: Wang D, Young ND, Korhonen PK, Gasser RB. Clonorchis sinensis and Clonorchiasis: The Relevance of Exploring Genetic Variation. Adv Parasitol. 2018;100:155-208.

For the draft assembly used for this effort, please cite the following:

Wang D, Korhonen PK, Gasser RB, Young ND. Improved genomic resources and new bioinformatic workflow for the carcinogenic parasite Clonorchis sinensis: Biotechnological implications. Biotechnol Adv. 2018;36(4):894-904.


We gratefully acknowledge the collaboration and samples provided Dr. Neil Young, The University of Melbourne. This work was supported in part by resources provided by DNA Zoo Australia, The University of Western Australia (UWA), with compute resource and support from the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre with funding from the Australian Government and the Government of Western Australia.

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