Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Research led by NYU Langone decodes genome for species of malaria

10.10.2008
Landmark finding could lead to treatment or vaccine for worldwide scourge, says cover story in Nature

In research aimed at addressing a global epidemic, a team of scientists from around the world has cracked the genetic code for the parasite that is responsible for up to 40 percent of the 515 million annual malaria infections worldwide, Nature reveals in its October 9 cover story.

Led by a parasitologist from NYU Langone Medical Center, Jane Carlton, PhD, some 40 researchers sequenced the genome of Plasmodium vivax (P. vivax), one of four malaria parasites that routinely affect humans. P. vivax, which is increasingly resistant to some antimalarial drugs, is the species most common outside Africa, particularly in Asia and the Americas, including the United States, the site of periodic outbreaks.

Vivax malaria, as it is known, is believed more robust and resilient than its cousin, the more deadly malaria species, P. falciparum – and is thus more difficult to eradicate. Distinctively, vivax malaria can be transmitted by mosquitoes in cooler temperatures. It also has a dormant stage that enables it to re-emerge as climates warm, causing "relapses" of the disease months and even years after a first attack.

Symptoms for the two strains of malaria are similar – flu-like, featuring fever and abdominal pain, often leading to severe anemia – and, in children, lifelong learning disabilities. Malaria is a disease of poorer populations, and overall is estimated annually to kill more than a million people worldwide.

Researchers also identified several pathways in the P. vivax parasite that could eventually be targets for drug treatment. Both P. vivax and P. falciparum vivax are also being studied to identify potential vaccine targets.

The research is regarded as all the more significant in that P. vivax has long remained little-researched, little-known and little-understood. Such neglect is mainly due to the focus on the more deadly malaria species, P. falciparum -- P. vivax is seldom lethal -- and also because the parasite cannot be grown in a lab setting. Further, the growing burden of vivax malaria will complicate efforts to control P. falciparum in areas where the two coincide.

Indeed, the project that led to the landmark genetic decoding was in the works for a total of six years, involving researchers from England, Spain, Australia and Brazil as well as the United States. After two years, remaining funds from the P. falciparum genome project were exhausted, and funding from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund and the National Institutes of Health allowed its completion.

P. vivax is the second species of human malaria parasite to be sequenced. Researchers found the genome for P. vivax dramatically different from the genomes of three other sequenced malaria parasites – different in content, structure and complexity. They used whole genome shotgun methods to produce high-quality sequences that will enable malaria researchers worldwide to undertake further research on the parasite. The next step is to sequence six other P. vivax genomes – from Brazil, Mauritania, India, North Korea and Indonesia -- to identify novel vaccine candidates and generate an evolutionary map of the species.

"This project is a tribute to the collegiality and tenacity of the vivax malaria community," says Jane M. Carlton, associate professor at NYU School of Medicine's Department of Medical Parasitology, who led a team of investigators from around the world. "They have persevered despite financial tribulations and lack of interest to generate an invaluable resource. These findings will be used by all malariologists for years to come to advance scientific investigation into this neglected species."

"The availability of genome sequence data has great potential to accelerate the identification and development of novel vaccines and therapeutics against this major human pathogen," says Claire Fraser-Liggett, PhD, director of the Institute of Genomic Sciences at University of Maryland School of Medicine and formerly president of The Institute for Genomic Research, Rockville Maryland where the project began. "Dr. Carlton is to be congratulated for her leadership role in bringing this project to completion."

"Unveiling the full genome sequence of Plasmodium vivax is a tremendous advance – a huge step forward in parasite biology and the fight against malaria," says Nick White, MD, professor of tropical medicine, Oxford University, England and Mahidol University, Thailand.

Anitra Haithcock | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.nyumc.org

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht BigH1 -- The key histone for male fertility
14.12.2017 | Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona)

nachricht Guardians of the Gate
14.12.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Biochemie

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.

Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...

Im Focus: Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

Detailed calculations show water cloaks are feasible with today's technology

Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

Im Focus: Successful Mechanical Testing of Nanowires

With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong

Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Plasmonic biosensors enable development of new easy-to-use health tests

14.12.2017 | Health and Medicine

New type of smart windows use liquid to switch from clear to reflective

14.12.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

BigH1 -- The key histone for male fertility

14.12.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>