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Parasites: Learning a Worm-Killer’s Modus Operandi

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Researchers have finally discovered how ivermectin, one of the most important worm-killing drugs used in both humans and animals for decades, actually works.

Ivermectin, extracted from a soil fungus in the 1970s, was originally sold under names like Heartgard to deworm pets.

Beginning in 1987, Merck began donating millions of doses to fight onchocerciasis, or river blindness, which is caused by microscopic worms that are spread by black fly bites and migrate into victims’ eyes. It is now also used against lymphatic filariasis, which is caused by worms spread by mosquitoes; worms nesting in the lymph nodes distort them and cause the grotesquely swollen legs and scrotums known as elephantiasis.
 
 

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