Scientists have unraveled the genetic code for a blood parasite associated with bladder cancer and HIV/AIDS and causes schistosomiasis, the third most devastating tropical disease in the world and a major source of illness and death in developing countries in Africa, South America, the Caribbean, the Middle East, and Asia.

Researchers from the University of Melbourne's Faculty of Veterinary Science along with faculty from the Beijing Genomics Institute said in a released statement on Tuesday they derived the sequenced nuclear genome of the blood parasite from a single pair of tiny worms.

"This genome was the missing piece of a puzzle in schistosomiasis research. By revealing the genetic blueprint ofSchistosoma haematobium, we now have a biological road map of the three major parasite species responsible for human schistosomiasis globally. Most importantly, the genome of Schistosoma haematobium will offer insights into how the intimate relationship between a parasite and its human host can induce malignant bladder cancer," lead researcher Dr. Neil Young said in a statement.

Researchers said that the discovery led to the prediction of some high priority drug targets for the parasitic schistosoma haematobium.

"Currently there is no vaccine and only one drug available to treat Schistosoma haematobium infection, so revealing its genetic blueprint provides an unprecedented resource for the design of new disease interventions, including drugs and vaccines," Young added.

The parasitic infection is transmitted from a freshwater snail to humans. Once in the blood, works live in blood vessels and release eggs that are embedded in the bladder wall causing chronic immune-mediated disease that may induce cancer.