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Publication Date


Document Type

Honors Project


Biological Sciences


Filarial worms-Genetics, Nematodes-Genetics, Molecular parasitology, Small interfering RNA, Gene expression, Gene silencing, Filariasis-Prevention, Brugia malayi, Drug discovery, MicroRNA


Lymphatic filariasis is a severely debilitating disease that is recognized as the second leading cause of permanent and long-term disability. It is a disease that leaves immense economic and psychological turmoil in its wake and is potentially eradicable. LF is caused by filarial parasites, one of them being Brugia malayi, the primary organism of interest in this research. In order to support and improve the efforts to make LF eradication a reality, it is necessary to discover new drug targets and use the knowledge about these targets to design potent drugs that compromise the viability of the parasite within the human host. This thesis research was focused on a group of post transcriptional gene silencers, microRNAs, which are evolutionarily conserved, small noncoding RNA molecules that play critical roles in processes of organismal development and the progression of disease. The aim of this research was to explore the potential of miRNAs as tools for drug target discovery as well as the very targets against which drugs can be designed, to adversely affect the development of the parasite and render it incapable of infection. We found two potential miRNAs, miR-71 and miR-100a, that show promise as candidates for anti-filarial drug design. Additionally, this research laid the groundwork for conducting subsequent studies on the expression and function of miRNAs in B. malayi, as well as the free living soil nematode, C. elegans.




vii, 92 p. : col. ill. Honors Project-Smith College, Northampton, Mass., 2011. Includes bibliographical references (p. 80-84)