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DNA could help prevent cancer caused by deadly fish parasite

Gene editing could be used to control a parasitic worm that infects freshwater fish and has been linked to high rates of bile duct cancer in south-east Asia, a study by scientists in three countries has found.

The disease is caused by eating raw and undercooked fish infected with a species of liver fluke, Opisthorchis viverrini, and is a major health problem in Mekong River basin countries such as Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam.

The study’s principal investigator is Alex Loukas, a parasitologist at the Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine at James Cook University in north Queensland. It also involves medical scientists from George Washington University in the United States and Khon Kaen University in Thailand.

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