Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Genomics
Scientific Community
 
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article
  News
Return

Genetic Fingerprints Can Track Drug Resistance in Malaria Parasites

Published: Wednesday, May 01, 2013
Last Updated: Wednesday, May 01, 2013
Bookmark and Share
Resistance to the frontline malaria drug artemisinin can be identified by surveying the genomes of malaria parasite populations.

The effectiveness of artemisinin – this key drug against malaria – is weakening, threatening hundreds of thousands of lives. It is a major objective of the World Health Organization to stop the spread of malaria parasites that are resistant to drugs.

The team, led by researchers at the University of Oxford and the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, discovered multiple strains of the malaria-causing parasite Plasmodium falciparum that appear to be rapidly expanding throughout the local parasite population in Western Cambodia, a known hotspot for drug resistance. These strains have emerged recently and are all artemisinin-resistant.

The scientists were able to characterise distinct genetic patterns or 'fingerprints' for each of the strains, showing the approach offers a rapid and novel way to detect and track the global emergence of drug resistance. Their findings provide deep insights into how resistance emerges and is maintained by certain parasite populations.

The international group used new genome sequencing technologies to investigate how genetic monitoring of malaria on a large scale could be used to track drug resistance. They sequenced the entire DNA of malaria parasites in over 800 samples from Africa and from South East Asia.

'Our survey of genetic variation showed that Western Cambodian malaria parasites had a population structure that was strikingly different to those of the other countries we analysed,' says Professor Dominic Kwiatkowski, senior author of the paper from the University of Oxford and the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute near Cambridge. 'Different not just from countries in Africa, but also different from malaria parasite populations in neighbouring Thailand, Vietnam, and even Eastern Cambodia.

'Initially, we thought our findings might be just an anomaly. But when we investigated further we found three distinct sub-populations of drug-resistant parasites that differ not only from the susceptible parasites, but also from one another. It is as if there are different ethnic groups of artemisinin-resistant parasites inhabiting the same region.'

One important benefit of this genetic approach is that, even without knowing the precise genetic causes of drug resistance, researchers are able to quickly identify resistant strains – an important step towards effective worldwide surveillance.

'Public health authorities need rapid and efficient ways to genetically detect drug-resistant parasites in order to track their emergence and spread,' says Dr Olivo Miotto, first author of the paper from Oxford University, Mahidol University in Thailand, and the MRC Centre for Genomics and Global Health. 'Our approach allows us to identify emerging populations of artemisinin-resistant parasites, and monitor their spread and evolution in real time. This knowledge will play a key role in informing strategic health planning and malaria elimination efforts.'

Western Cambodia appears to be a hotspot for the emergence of drug resistance, but it is not fully known why. Resistance to other malaria drugs, namely chloroquine and sulfadoxine/pyrimethamine, first developed in Southeast Asia before spreading to Africa. This study offers new leads that the consortium will be pursuing as to why drug resistance arises more readily in some locations when compared with others.

'Whilst we have not yet identified the precise mechanism of action or resistance to artemisinin, this research represents substantial progress in that direction,' says Professor Nicholas White of Oxford University and Mahidol University. 'It also provides an important insight into why antimalarial drug resistance (previously to chloroquine and antifols, and now to artemisinin) arises in Western Cambodia.'

He adds: 'Artemisinin resistance is an emergency which could derail all the good work of global malaria control in recent years. We desperately need methods to track it in order to contain it, and molecular fingerprinting provides this.'


Further Information

Join For Free

Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 3,300+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 4,900+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters


Sign In



Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into TechnologyNetworks.com you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

Type 2 Diabetes Genetics Revealed
The largest study of its kind into type 2 diabetes has produced the most detailed picture to date of the genetics underlying the condition.
Wednesday, July 13, 2016
Genetic Research Can Significantly Improve Drug Development
With drug development costs topping $1.2bn (£850 million) to get a single treatment to the point it can be sold and used in the clinic, could genetic analysis save hundreds of millions of dollars?
Friday, June 17, 2016
Genes That Increase Children's Risk Of Blood Infection Identified
A team led by Oxford University has identified genes that make certain children more susceptible to invasive bacterial infections by performing a large genome-wide association study in African children.
Friday, May 27, 2016
Origin of a Species
A study by researchers at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics at Oxford University has uncovered the key role played by a single gene in how groups of animals diverge to form new species.
Monday, February 15, 2016
Identifying Drug Resistance Traits
Scientists have developed an easy-to-use computer program that can quickly analyse bacterial DNA from a patient's infection and predict which antibiotics will work, and which will fail due to drug resistance.
Tuesday, December 22, 2015
Faster, Cheaper TB Diagnosis
Whole Genome Sequencing is a faster, cheaper and more effective way of diagnosing tuberculosis says a new study.
Wednesday, December 09, 2015
Why we Still Don’t Have Personalised Medicine
15 years after sequencing the human genome we still do not have the promised personalised medicine, why is this?
Friday, December 04, 2015
The Secret Behind the Power of Bacterial Sex
Migration between different communities of bacteria is the key to the type of gene transfer that can lead to the spread of traits such as antibiotic resistance, according to researchers at Oxford University.
Tuesday, November 24, 2015
Mini DNA Sequencer’s Data Belies its Size
A miniature DNA sequencing device that plugs into a laptop and was developed by Oxford Nanopore has been tested by an open, international consortium, including Oxford University researchers.
Tuesday, October 20, 2015
New Insight into Recombination and Sex Chromosomes
Not only does the platypus have some odd physical features, an updated version of its genome has also underscored the unusual genetic characteristics that it harbors.
Tuesday, May 12, 2015
Protein Clue To Sudden Cardiac Death
A protein has been shown to have a surprising role in regulating the 'glue' that holds heart cells together, a finding that may explain how a gene defect could cause sudden cardiac death.
Tuesday, February 17, 2015
Investment In Cancer Research At Oxford University
Centre for Molecular Medicine to focus on cancer genomics and molecular diagnostics, through a partnership with the Chan Soon-Shiong Institute.
Friday, October 24, 2014
Genetic Tracking Identifies Cancer Stem Cells in Patients
The gene mutations driving cancer have been tracked for the first time in patients back to a distinct set of cells at the root of cancer – cancer stem cells.
Friday, May 16, 2014
Eating Organic Food Doesn't Lower Overall Cancer Risk
Women who always or mostly eat organic foods have the same likelihood of developing cancer as women who eat conventionally produced foods.
Tuesday, April 01, 2014
New Trial of Personalized Cancer Treatment Begins in Oxford
Phase I trial in Oxford will investigate a new drug, called CXD101.
Tuesday, March 18, 2014
Scientific News
Gene Therapy for Metabolic Liver Diseases
Researchers have tested gene therapy in pigs from hereditary tyrosinemia type 1, with corrected liver cells being transplanted into the diseased liver.
Gene Terapy for Muscle Wasting Developed
New gene therapy could save millions of people suffering from muscle wasting disease.
Gene-Editing 'Toolbox' Targets Multiple Genes Simultaneously
Researchers have designed a system that modifies, or edits, multiple genes in a genome at once while minimising unintentional effects.
Discovering the First Farmers
Genetic analyses reveal a collection of highly distinct groups in the Near East and Europe at the dawn of agriculture.
Fighting Cancer Through Protein Pathways
Researchers have found a new drug target within a protein production pathway critical to regulating growth and proliferation of cells.
Mutations in DNA-Repair Genes Found in Advanced Prostate Cancers
New findings indicate that nearly 12% of male advanced prostate cancer sufferers have inherited mutation in DNA-repair genes.
Ice Bucket Challenge Instrumental in Gene Discovery
Donations from the ALS Ice Bucket Chellenge allowed for the largest-ever study of inherited ALS, which identified a new ALS gene.
Triple-Action Therapy Patch Shows Promise
Patch that delivers drug, gene, and light-based therapy to tumor sites shows promising results in mice.
Cancer Gene-Drug Combinations Ripe for Precision Medicine
The study aims to expand the number of cancer gene mutations that can be paired with a precision therapy.
Targeting BRAF Mutations in Thyroid Cancer
Treating metastatic thyroid cancer patients harboring a BRAF mutation with vemurafenib showed anti-tumor activity in a third of patients.
Skyscraper Banner

SELECTBIO Market Reports
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
 
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
3,300+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
4,900+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FOR FREE!