“Malaria is responsible for 1-3 million deaths a year, most of whom are children under 5 in sub-Saharan Africa,” said J. Koji Lum, associate professor of anthropology and biological sciences, principal investigator for the grant. “This is equivalent to the death toll from the attacks of 9/11 every eight to 24 hours.”
Lum and Ralph Garruto, professor of biomedical anthropology and a co-investigator on the grant, together have about 11,000 archived human blood samples from malarious regions of the Pacific collected from the 1950s to the present. The samples will be analyzed and researchers will document the accumulation of genetic changes that resulted in chloroquine’s treatment failure in the Pacific.
Malaria is relatively easy to eliminate in places that have a good health-care infrastructure. In the developing world, particularly in the tropics, the disease is treated primarily through chemotherapy, Lum said.
The problem is that parasites develop resistance to the drugs over time. This study will help scientists understand how malaria parasites evolved resistance to chloroquine. They also hope to learn lessons that may be relevant to current treatments and their interactions with the disease. Ultimately, a better understanding of past episodes of drug resistance evolution will help doctors get the maximum possible impact from newer drugs.
Other studies have had to rely on theoretical modeling of resistant parasites to infer how they evolved. Lum and Garruto expect to be able to directly observe the accumulation of the nine mutations in the transporter gene that confer resistance to chloroquine. They’ll study parasites collected during the past 50 years and stored in the freezers of the NIH-BU Biomedical Anthropology archive.
“This funding will allow us to do a little bit of time traveling,” Lum said.
Lum considers malaria the most important infectious disease in human history. It continues to exact a devastating toll, in part because the resulting loss of education, work and young lives creates a cycle that makes it nearly impossible for nations to rise from poverty.
To eliminate malaria, countries must treat their entire populations, even asymptomatic adults. But there’s rarely enough money and medicine for developing nations to do that, Lum explained. Doctors focus their energies on the young, people who are clearly ill. Adults who have developed some level of immunity to malaria end up as reservoirs for parasites, continuing to spread the illness without ever feeling sick.
Gail Glover | EurekAlert!
Monitoring the heart's mitochondria to predict cardiac arrest?
21.09.2017 | Boston Children's Hospital
Highly precise wiring in the Cerebral Cortex
21.09.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Hirnforschung
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...
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...
MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems Holding GmbH about commercial use of a multi-well tissue plate for automated and reliable tissue engineering & drug testing.
MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems...
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