Science Current Events | Science News | Brightsurf.com
 

'Benign' malaria key driver of human evolution in Asia-Pacific

September 05, 2012
Their finding challenges the widely-accepted theory that Plasmodium falciparum, which causes the most lethal form of malaria, is the only malaria parasite capable of driving genome evolution in humans. The study was published today in the journal PLOS Medicine.

Professor Ivo Mueller from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute and Barcelona Centre for International Health Research (CRESIB) led the study, with colleagues from the Papua New Guinea Institute of Medical Research, Centre of Global Health and Diseases, US, and the University of Western Australia.

Malaria is a devastating parasitic disease that kills up to one million people a year. It is a major cause of poverty and a barrier to economic development. Approximately half of the world's population is at risk of malaria infection.

"Humans and malaria parasites have been co-evolving for thousands of years," Professor Mueller said. "Malaria has been a major force in the evolution of the human genome, with gene mutations that provide humans with some protection against the disease being preserved through natural selection because they aid in survival."

Professor Mueller said the study has challenged the perception that P. falciparum malaria is the only malaria species that affects human genome evolution. "It has long been assumed that Plasmodium falciparum, the species that causes the most severe disease and most deaths from malaria, is the most important driver of this gene selection in humans," Professor Mueller said. "Our results suggest that P. vivax malaria, though until recently widely considered to be a 'benign' form of malaria, actually causes severe enough disease to provide evolutionary selection pressures in the Asia-Pacific."

Professor Mueller said that the research team was interested in whether P. vivax malaria might be the cause of the unusually high rates of Southeast Asian ovalocytosis (SAO), a hereditary red blood cell disorder, in the Asia-Pacific region. "SAO occurs in approximately 10 to 15 per cent of the population in parts of the South West Pacific and is caused by a hereditary mutation in a single copy of a gene that makes a red blood cell membrane protein. This is almost an absurdly high frequency when you consider that inheriting two copies of the mutation is invariably fatal, so we figured it must confer a strong advantage to the carriers," he said.

The research team looked at the incidence of P. vivax and P. falciparum infections in three studies that included a total of 1975 children in Papua New Guinea aged 0-14 years. "We found that SAO-positive children were significantly protected against P. vivax infection, with 46 per cent reduction of clinical disease in infants with little or no immunity, and 52-55 per cent reduction in the risk of infection in older children. We also saw a significant decrease in parasite numbers in infants and older children, which is linked to a decrease in risk of clinical disease," Professor Mueller said.

The finding could have dramatic implications for future malaria vaccine design and development, Professor Mueller said. "Studying the mechanisms that cause SAO-positive people to be protected against P. vivax malaria could help us to better understand the mechanics of infection and help us to identify better targets for a malaria vaccine," he said.

Walter and Eliza Hall Institute


Related Malaria Current Events and Malaria News Articles


Fighting mosquito resistance to insecticides
Controlling mosquitoes that carry human diseases is a global health challenge as their ability to resist insecticides now threatens efforts to prevent epidemics.

Stopping malaria in its tracks
A new drug acts as a roadblock for malaria, curing mice of established infection, according to a study in The Journal of Experimental Medicine. Treatment was not associated with obvious side effects, suggesting that the drug may also be safe and effective in humans.

New malaria treatment thwarts parasite resistance
Scientists have made an important breakthrough in the fight against malaria, identifying a potent agent that thwarts drug resistance in the parasite that causes the disease.

Study identifies new way to kill the malaria parasite
Scientists have discovered new ways in which the malaria parasite survives in the blood stream of its victims, a discovery that could pave the way to new treatments for the disease.

Pesticide study shows that sexual conflict can maintain genetic variation
New research from the University of Exeter has shown that the sexually antagonistic gene for resistance to the pesticide DDT, which increases fitness in female flies but simultaneously decreases fitness in male flies, helps to maintain genetic variation.

OU professor developing vaccine to protect global communities from malaria
A University of Oklahoma professor studying malaria mosquito interaction has discovered a new mosquito protein for the development of a new vaccine that is expected to stop the spread of the disease in areas where it is considered endemic.

Protein discovery fuels redesign of mosquito-based malaria vaccine
A promising type of vaccine designed to eradicate malaria by blocking parasite transmission could be a step closer, as a result of experts uncovering new information about the targeted protein.

Modern housing reduces malaria risk
Housing improvements could reduce malaria cases by half in some settings, according to research published in the open access Malaria Journal.

EBV co-infection may boost malaria mortality in childhood
Many people who live in sub-Saharan Africa develop a natural immunity to malaria, through repeated exposure to Plasmodium parasites.

'Imperfect drug penetration' speeds pathogens' resistance, study finds
Prescribing patients two or more drugs that do not reach the same parts of the body could accelerate a pathogen's resistance to all of the drugs being used in treatment, according to a new study published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
More Malaria Current Events and Malaria News Articles

The Malaria Project: The U.S. Government's Secret Mission to Find a Miracle Cure

The Malaria Project: The U.S. Government's Secret Mission to Find a Miracle Cure
by Karen M. Masterson (Author)


A fascinating and shocking historical exposé, The Malaria Project is the story of America's secret mission to combat malaria during World War II—a campaign modeled after a German project which tested experimental drugs on men gone mad from syphilis.

American war planners, foreseeing the tactical need for a malaria drug, recreated the German model, then grew it tenfold. Quickly becoming the biggest and most important medical initiative of the war, the project tasked dozens of the country’s top research scientists and university labs to find a treatment to remedy half a million U.S. troops incapacitated by malaria.

Spearheading the new U.S. effort was Dr. Lowell T. Coggeshall, the son of a poor Indiana farmer whose persistent drive and curiosity led him to become one of...

The Making of a Tropical Disease: A Short History of Malaria (Johns Hopkins Biographies of Disease)

The Making of a Tropical Disease: A Short History of Malaria (Johns Hopkins Biographies of Disease)
by Randall M. Packard (Author)


Malaria sickens hundreds of millions of people―and kills one to three million―each year. Despite massive efforts to eradicate the disease, it remains a major public health problem in poorer tropical regions. But malaria has not always been concentrated in tropical areas. How did other regions control malaria and why does the disease still flourish in some parts of the globe?From Russia to Bengal to Palm Beach, Randall Packard’s far-ranging narrative traces the natural and social forces that help malaria spread and make it deadly. He finds that war, land development, crumbling health systems, and globalization―coupled with climate change and changes in the distribution and flow of water―create conditions in which malaria's carrier mosquitoes thrive. The combination of these...

The Fever: How Malaria Has Ruled Humankind for 500,000 Years

The Fever: How Malaria Has Ruled Humankind for 500,000 Years
by Sonia Shah (Author)


In recent years, malaria has emerged as a cause célèbre for voguish philanthropists. Bill Gates, Bono, and Laura Bush are only a few of the personalities who have opened their pocketbooks in hopes of eradicating the scourge. How does a parasitic disease that we've known how to prevent for more than a century still infect three hundred million people every year, killing nearly one million of them? In The Fever, the journalist Sonia Shah sets out to answer this question, delivering a timely, inquisitive chronicle of the illness and its influence on human lives. The Fever captures the curiously fascinating, devastating history of this long-standing thorn in the side of humanity.

Malaria, Poems

Malaria, Poems
by Cameron Conaway (Author)


Malaria kills nearly one million people each year. Hundreds of millions more are sickened by the disease, and many of them are permanently disabled. Billions are spent each year to understand it. Researchers know the molecular details of the interaction between the mosquito and our own red blood cells, and the myriad ways in which malaria impacts the global economy and the advancement of humanity. But what of the public? Though its story is told in thousands of articles and in hundreds of books, many in the developed world are unaware of how prevalent malaria still is. Malaria, Poems testifies to the importance of bridging the chasm between science and art. It adds thread to a tattered and tragic global narrative; it is poetry’s attempt to reawaken care in a cold case that keeps...

The Malaria Capers: Tales of Parasites and People

The Malaria Capers: Tales of Parasites and People
by Robert S. Desowitz (Author)


"Reads like a murder mystery. . . . [Desowitz] writes with uncommon lucidity and verse, leaving the reader with a vivid understanding of malaria and other tropical diseases, and the ways in which culture, climate and politics have affected their spread and containment."―New York Times Why, Robert S. Desowitz asks, has biotechnical research on malaria produced so little when it had promised so much? An expert in tropical diseases, Desowtiz searches for answers in this provocative book.

Quinine: Malaria and the Quest for a Cure That Changed the World

Quinine: Malaria and the Quest for a Cure That Changed the World
by Fiammetta Rocco (Author)


Quinine: The Jesuits discovered it. The Protestants feared it. The British vied with the Dutch for it, and the Nazis seized it. Because of quinine, medicine, warfare, and exploration were changed forever.For more than one thousand years, there was no cure for malaria. In 1623, after ten cardinals and hundreds of their attendants died in Rome while electing Urban VII the new pope, he announced that a cure must be found. He encouraged Jesuit priests establishing new missions in Asia and in South America to learn everything they could about how the local people treated the disease, and in 1631, an apothecarist in Peru named Agostino Salumbrino dispatched a new miracle to Rome. The cure was quinine, an alkaloid made from the bitter red bark of the cinchona tree.From the quest of the...

A Shot of Malaria

A Shot of Malaria
by Charles Souby (Author)


In A SHOT OF MALARIA, Charles Souby unfolds the twisted story of a young man, Daniel Martin,desperately hooked on heroin, alcohol, and his own delusions. Set in San Francisco in the nineties, and written as deadpan first-person narrative, the novel captures the ugly realities of addiction with sharp, ironic humor. A SHOT OF MALARIA has been described as The Catcher in the Rye for the turn of the 21st century.

The Imaginations of Unreasonable Men: Inspiration, Vision, and Purpose in the Quest to End Malaria

The Imaginations of Unreasonable Men: Inspiration, Vision, and Purpose in the Quest to End Malaria
by Bill Shore (Author)


A small cadre of scientists—collaborators and competitors—are determined to develop a vaccine for malaria, a feat most tropical disease experts have long considered impossible. Skepticism, doubt, and a host of logistical and financial obstacles dog their quest. Success may ultimately elude them. Why, and how, do they persist?

The kind of person who decides to combat malaria must have a very rare combination of attributes: dogged enough to keep going when results are slow; independent enough to continue, often alone, when other, more popular, causes distract attention from their work; self-confident enough in the importance of the work to persist when the beneficiaries may reside thousands of miles distant. Above all, taking on a challenge of this scale requires a fearlessly...

Little Things Make Big Differences: A Story about Malaria

Little Things Make Big Differences: A Story about Malaria
by John Nunes (Author)


Little Things Make Big Differences is a story about Rehema, a young girl who lives in the African country of Tanzania. When she was a baby, Rehema was infected with malaria, but because her parents were able to get treatment for her, she survived. In the book, Rehema describes what children in the United States can do to help fight malaria.

One little bite from one mosquito doesn't seem like a big thing, but if that mosquito carries the parasite that causes malaria, its bite can be very serious. Malaria is one of the most common infectious diseases, and it can be deadly. Each year, one million people die of malaria-that's one death every 30 seconds. In Africa, 75 percent of the malaria victims are children. Prevention is not only possible, but it's simple.



Author...

The Long Struggle against Malaria in Tropical Africa

The Long Struggle against Malaria in Tropical Africa
by James L. A. Webb Jr (Author)


The Long Struggle Against Malaria in Tropical Africa investigates the changing entomological, parasitological, and medical understandings of vectors, parasites, and malarial disease that have shaped the programs of malaria control and altered the transmission of malarial infections. It examines the history of malaria control and eradication in the contexts of racial thought, population movements, demographic growth, economic change, urbanization, warfare, and politics. It will be useful for students of medicine and public health, for those who are involved with malaria research studies, and for those who work on the contemporary malaria control and elimination campaigns in tropical Africa.

© 2015 BrightSurf.com