The parasite that causes malignant malaria in humans has been detected in gorillas, along with two new species of malaria parasites, reports a study co-authored by UC Irvine biologist Francisco Ayala.
The study also confirms a recent discovery by Ayala and colleagues that human malignant malaria, caused by Plasmodium falciparum, originated from a closely related parasite found in chimpanzees in equatorial Africa. P. falciparum is responsible for 85 percent of malignant malaria infections in humans and nearly all deaths from the disease.
The researchers cautioned that increased contact between primates and humans – mostly because of logging and deforestation – creates a greater risk of new parasites being transmitted to humans. It also could further jeopardize endangered ape populations by spreading diseases to them. Finding P. falciparum in gorillas also complicates the challenge of eradicating malaria.
“Hundreds of billions of dollars are spent each year toward ridding humans of malignant malaria. But success may be a pyrrhic victory, because we could be re-infected by gorillas – just as we were originally infected by chimps a few thousand years ago,” said Ayala, corresponding author of the study, published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The researchers analyzed fecal samples from 125 wild chimpanzees and 84 gorillas in Cameroon and tested blood samples from three gorillas in Gabon. They identified two new closely related species of malaria parasites – Plasmodium GorA and Plasmodium GorB – that infect gorillas. The animals also were found to harbor P. falciparum, previously thought to only infect humans.
In August, Ayala and colleagues published a study reporting that P. falciparum had been transmitted to humans from chimpanzees perhaps as recently as 5,000 years ago – and possibly through a single mosquito. Before then, malaria’s origin had been unclear.
Chimpanzees were known to carry the parasite Plasmodium reichenowi, but most scientists assumed the two parasites had existed separately in humans and chimpanzees for the last 5 million years.
The discovery could aid the development of a vaccine for malaria, which each year causes 2 million infant deaths and sickens about 500 million people, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa. It also furthers understanding of how infectious diseases such as HIV, SARS, and avian and swine flu can be transmitted to humans from animals.
In addition to Ayala, French scientists Franck Prugnolle, Patrick Durand, Cecile Neel, Benjamin Ollomo, Celine Arnathau, Lucie Etienne, Eitel Mpoudi-Ngole, Dieudonne Nkoghe, Eric Leroy, Eric Delaporte, Martine Peeters and Francois Renaud worked on the gorilla study.
Funding was provided by France’s Institute of Research for Development, National Center for Scientific Research, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and National Agency for Research on AIDS, as well as Gabon’s International Center for Medical Research in Franceville.
About the University of California, Irvine: Founded in 1965, UCI is a top-ranked university dedicated to research, scholarship and community service. Led by Chancellor Michael Drake since 2005, UCI is among the most dynamic campuses in the University of California system, with nearly 28,000 undergraduate and graduate students, 1,100 faculty and 9,000 staff. Orange County’s largest employer, UCI contributes an annual economic impact of $3.9 billion.
Novel mechanisms of action discovered for the skin cancer medication Imiquimod
21.10.2016 | Technische Universität München
Second research flight into zero gravity
21.10.2016 | Universität Zürich
Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...
In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...
By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.
"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...
COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.
In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...
'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.
Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine
21.10.2016 | Information Technology
21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences