Tue, Jan 16, 2007 - Page 2 News List

Two Taiwanese scientists credited for journal article

By Angelica Oung  /  STAFF REPORTER

Chiu Cheng-hsun, left, and Petrus Tang pose for photos at a press conference yesterday next to the cover of this week's Science journal.

PHOTO: GEORGE TSORNG, TAIPEI TIMES

The pathogen Trichomonas vaginalis (TV) made the cover of the prestigious journal Science this week. For their part in the multinational effort to sequence and tag the sexually transmitted parasite, Chang Gung Hospital's Chiu Cheng-hsun (邱政洵) and Petrus Tang (鄧致剛) received co-author credit in the article Draft Genome Sequence of the Sexually Transmitted Pathogen Trichomonas vaginalis.

The Chang Gung team worked on generating expressed sequence tags from the ribonucleic acid (RNA) of the pathogen. Eventually, more than 70,000 tags were found, corresponding to 26,000 genes.

"We were all shocked that such a tiny organism had such a huge genome," Chiu said. In comparison, the human genome only carries 17,000 to 18,000 genes, Chiu added.

Despite its prevalence, TV is not well-known to the general public.

"It is probably the second-most common sexually transmitted disease, with an estimated 180 million sufferers worldwide" Chiu said. "But the majority of those who have it are not even aware of the infection." Chiu said that many carriers of TV never develop any symptoms.

Although TV is treatable with the antibiotic metronidazole, diagnosis remains slow and inadequate.

"We hope our work will help develop a better, more rapid clinical test for TV and perhaps even a new cure," Chiu said. "This is especially urgent as oversea studies show metronidazole resistance is rapidly increasing."

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