Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

NTU researchers complete the world's first in-depth study of the malaria parasite genome

08.02.2010
This breakthrough makes NTU's School of Biological Sciences a global leader in transcriptional profiling of malaria -- and better yet, could lead to a cure for malaria

Groundbreaking research done at Singapore's Nanyang Technological University's (NTU) School of Biological Sciences (SBS) could lead to the development of more potent drugs or a vaccine for malaria, which is transmitted to humans by infected mosquitoes and kills up to three million people each year.

Assistant Professor Zbynek Bozdech and his team of researchers, including graduate students and post-doctorals from SBS' Division of Genomics & Genetics, have scored a world first in successfully using transcriptional profiling to uncover hitherto unknown gene expression (activity) patterns in malaria.

The research team's breakthrough made the January 2010 edition of the top-ranked journal, Nature Biotechnology, which is a satellite publication of Nature, the world's leading peer-reviewed journal.

Transcriptional profiling is the measurement of the activity of thousands of genes at once, to create a global picture of cellular function. These profiles can, for example, distinguish between cells that are actively dividing, or show how the cells react to a particular treatment.

This outcome in infectious disease pathology could potentially be the decade's big breakthrough as it has yielded critical information about how the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum – the most deadly form of malaria – responds to existing compounds with curative potential.

The genome or the complete DNA content of the Plasmodium falciparum has about 5,300 genes. Up till now, scientists have a good understanding of the gene functions for only about half of the more than 5,000 genes. Using transcriptional profiling, Asst Prof Zbynek Bozdech's team has successfully uncovered the gene functions for almost the entire genome, with more than 90 percent of the gene functions from the previously unknown half now better understood.

"Drawing on our findings, pharmaceutical companies could explore ways to design a drug that targets the weakest link," said Asst Prof Bozdech of his research which was supported with S$900,000 in grants from Singapore's Ministry of Education and the National Medical Research Council. "We have predicted all the genes that could be used for a vaccine as well," he said.

Researchers at Germany's renowned institute for tropical diseases, the Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine, have validated the research findings, which are expected to provide exciting new insights into parasite biology.

"The successful NTU-BNI joint project has led to the creation of the world's first database to predict the functions of more than 2,500 genes of the malaria parasite previously unknown. The database would be useful to scientists around the world who are developing new vaccines and drugs," says Dr. Tim Gilberger, Head, Malaria Research at BNI.

Preventing malaria infection is important because resistance to anti-malarial drugs is a growing problem worldwide. There is currently no vaccine for malaria, which is widespread in poorer countries where it remains a hindrance to economic development. Also of growing concern to scientists is the confirmation of the first signs of resistance to the only affordable treatment left in the global medicine cabinet for malaria: Artemisinin.

In successfully using transcriptional profiling to study the behavior of the malaria parasite, NTU's researchers have ventured into the unknown and paved the way for future breakthroughs in healthcare.

"The wealth of new information arising from our extensive four-year study is a major contribution to the worldwide effort to better understand and treat malaria," said Prof Peter Rainer Preiser, Deputy Director of NTU's BioSciences Research Centre and a member of the NTU research team.

Hisham Hambari | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ntu.edu.sg

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Nerves control the body’s bacterial community
26.09.2017 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel

nachricht Ageless ears? Elderly barn owls do not become hard of hearing
26.09.2017 | Carl von Ossietzky-Universität Oldenburg

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: The fastest light-driven current source

Controlling electronic current is essential to modern electronics, as data and signals are transferred by streams of electrons which are controlled at high speed. Demands on transmission speeds are also increasing as technology develops. Scientists from the Chair of Laser Physics and the Chair of Applied Physics at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) have succeeded in switching on a current with a desired direction in graphene using a single laser pulse within a femtosecond ¬¬ – a femtosecond corresponds to the millionth part of a billionth of a second. This is more than a thousand times faster compared to the most efficient transistors today.

Graphene is up to the job

Im Focus: LaserTAB: More efficient and precise contacts thanks to human-robot collaboration

At the productronica trade fair in Munich this November, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be presenting Laser-Based Tape-Automated Bonding, LaserTAB for short. The experts from Aachen will be demonstrating how new battery cells and power electronics can be micro-welded more efficiently and precisely than ever before thanks to new optics and robot support.

Fraunhofer ILT from Aachen relies on a clever combination of robotics and a laser scanner with new optics as well as process monitoring, which it has developed...

Im Focus: The pyrenoid is a carbon-fixing liquid droplet

Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.

A warming planet

Im Focus: Highly precise wiring in the Cerebral Cortex

Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.

The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...

Im Focus: Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

New technique promises tunable laser devices

Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Nerves control the body’s bacterial community

26.09.2017 | Life Sciences

Four elements make 2-D optical platform

26.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Goodbye, login. Hello, heart scan

26.09.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>