New genome sequencing technologies provide insight into emerging artemisinin-resistance and a novel way to track this public health threat
A worldwide collaboration of researchers has shown that resistance to the frontline antimalarial drug – artemisinin – can be identified by surveying the genomes of parasite populations. The effectiveness of this key drug is weakening, threatening hundreds of...More>>
By Susana Campino
(Originally published Feb. 15th 2013 on the Sanger Institute Blog)
Malaria causes one in ten of all deaths among children in sub-Saharan Africa, with more than 600,000 dying each year from over 200 million reported cases.
Although the number of deaths is staggeringly high, this is a mortality rate of only 0.3%. Early diagnosis and proper treatment are crucial to prevent...More>>
NBC News’ Ian Williams visited Dr François Nosten to discuss the threat posed by artemisinin resistance. Nosten, who runs the Shoklo Malaria Research Unit, a part of the Mahidol University’s Faculty of Medicine, described how slow parasite clearance time provides alarming evidence that resistance is developing to artemisinin, the current frontline treatment for malaria, and reiterates the need to...More>>
Source: Wellcome Trust, 15 Nov 2012.
A Wellcome Trust-funded study estimates that around 350 million people living in malaria-endemic countries are deficient in an enzyme that means they can suffer severe complications from taking primaquine, a key drug for treating relapsing malaria.
This finding is important because primaquine is recommended in the global action plan to eliminate...More>>
A phase 3 clinical trial of the malaria vaccine candidate RTS,S/AS01 has reported disappointing results. Three doses of the vaccine, where the first dose was administered to infants between 6 and 12 weeks of age, offered only 31% protection against detectable malaria and 37% against severe malaria. This is in contrast to an earlier trial which reported 55% protection against detectable malaria...More>>
Researchers recently reported artemisinin-resistant Plasmodium falciparum in Pursat province, Cambodia. The international team, led by Rick Fairhurst of the US National Institutes of Health, detected slow parasite clearances rate when patients with falciparum malaria were treated with artesunate — a worrying sign that the parasite may be developing resistance to the frontline treatments for...More>>
More than 2 billion people live in malaria-endemic areas outside Africa. A new report from the World Health Organization — the first of its kind — examines the progress and challenges in tackling malaria outside of Africa. The report, “Defeating Malaria in the Americas, Europe, the Middle East and the Pacific,” is part of the Progress and Impact Series of the Roll Back Malaria Partnership.
A recent study has found novel vectors of the malaria parasite in Kisii Central District in the highlands of Western Kenya. These mosquitoes — as yet unidentified — tended to bite outdoors and in the early evening. This ‘outdoor-active, early-biting’ behaviour could undermine current indoor-based malaria control measures and subsequently contribute to malaria parasite transmission in the area....More>>
The Encyclopedia of DNA Elements (ENCODE) project set out to identify all the functional elements within the human genome. As a result of this large-scale, global collaboration between 440 researchers in 32 labs, 80% of components of the human genome are now associated with at least one biochemical function. Last week ENCODE published their findings in 30 papers, representing a significant...More>>
Three independent studies undertaken in Papua New Guinea revealed strong associations between the SAO genetic defect (SLC4A1Δ27) and protection against P. vivax malaria in infants and children. The way in which the SAO defect infers protection is still unknown. The findings suggest that P. vivax may have contributed to unique host-parasite adaptations in the region.
The findings are published in...More>>
A recent study reports the whole genome sequencing of five P. vivax isolates taken directly from blood samples of infected patients in Cambodia and Madagascar, as well as the Belem strain that is adapted to survive in monkeys. Each patient was found to be infected with multiple vivax strains. Researchers identified a catalogue of 80,000 SNPs, which can be used for large-scale genotyping and...More>>
A study last week explores the influence of sixty-four malaria candidate SNPs, including the sickle-cell polymorphism (HbS), on severe malaria in a case-control study consisting of over 900 individuals from Bamako, Mali. The findings support known protective effects of the blood group O and the HbS AS genotype in relation to life-threatening malaria as well as demonstrating a marginal...More>>
A recent study investigates the immune status of individuals residing in eight villages across the Moneragala district in Sri Lanka, and the relationship with demographic changes and selected host genetic markers. The findings indicate that there is an age-acquired immunity in this population and that there might be host genetic variants that might have links with the generation and/or...More>>
A new technique has been developed to identify hotspots of malaria parasite evolution and track the rise of malarial drug resistance, faster and more efficiently than ever before.
For the first time, researchers have the ability to analyse malaria genomes straight from patient blood samples using new sequencing technologies and informatics methods. As a proof of principle, the team conducted the...More>>
MalariaGEN has published a draft consultation document defining a community project on the population genomics of P. falciparum and seeks comments from the malaria research and public health community.
The MalariaGEN community project on P. falciparum population genomics (formerly known as P. falciparum genome variation) has been in a preliminary phase since 2010. Much work has been done behind...More>>
Two MalariaGEN community projects have released new genomic data on P. falciparum today.
The population genomics P. falciparum project has announced a new major release (2.0) of genotype data to project partners. In this release 1,591 parasite DNA samples from 33 partner studies were analysed. A total of 421,613 SNPs passed all quality filters and could be reliably genotyped in the majority...More>>
We are looking forward to the upcoming 2012 Wellcome Trust Conference on Genomic Epidemiology of Malaria (GEM), June 10-13th at the Welcome Trust Conference Centre on the Genome Campus (home of The Sanger Institute) in Hinxton UK.
This meeting provides a common forum for malaria scientists and clinicians working at the interface of genome science and technology, epidemiology, and statistical and...More>>
Last week Nature published a story looking at the role data sharing has played in the fight against malaria. It looks at how the publication of details for thousands of molecules, shown to inhibit Plasmodium falciparum in some way, by GlaxoSmithKline, Novartis and the St Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis in 2010, has facilitated the development of potential drugs to combat...More>>
Part of what makes malaria difficult to tackle is its ability to hide from the human immune system. Today, research has been published in the journal Cell Host and Microbe that brings us a step closer to understanding how this is achieved by the parasite. The research has identified a molecule in Plasmodium falciparum, called PfSET10 that plays a role in the genetic control of the...More>>
The latter part of 2011 saw some significant malaria breakthroughs:
In November research was published in Nature identifying a receptor-ligand pair involved in the cellular recognition process that allows the Plasmodium falciparum parasite to invade red blood cells. It was found that basigin, a receptor on the surface of red blood cells, can be activated by PfRh5, a parasite protein involved in...More>>
This month has seen the early results from the on-going Phase III clinical trial of malaria vaccine candidate RTS,S/AS01 come through, and they are promising.
The trial was conducted across 11 sites in seven sub-Saharan African countries. It has shown that giving three doses of RTS,S/AS01 to children aged 5 to 17 months, reduced the risk of the child experiencing clinical malaria and severe...More>>
We are pleased to report that Dr Julie Makani has been awarded the Royal Society Pfizer Award for her outstanding research into using anaemia in sickle cell disease (SCD) as a model for translating genetic research into health benefits. Dr Makani is a Wellcome Trust Intermediate Fellow in Public Health and Tropical Medicine, based in the Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences in...More>>
Research published online this week in The Lancet Infectious Diseases, highlights the issue of mosquitos becoming resistance to insecticide-treated bed nets. The paper titled “Malaria morbidity and pyrethroid resistance after the introduction of insecticide-treated bednets and artemisinin-based combination therapies: a longitudinal study” looks at how malaria morbidity, mosquito populations...More>>
The Wellcome Trust has launched a call for proposals as part of the Human Heredity and Health in Africa (H3Africa) Initiative, the partnership between the African Society of Human Genetics, the NIH and the Wellcome Trust which aims to develop African research networks.
Awards from the Wellcome Trust will be made to African institutions; the principal applicant will be an African citizen or...More>>
A human genetic variant associated with an almost 30 percent reduced risk of developing severe malaria has been identified. Scientists from the Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine (BNITM), Hamburg, and Kumasi University, Ghana, reveal that a variant at the FAS locus can prevent an excessive and potentially hazardous immune response in infected children.
FAS encodes for CD95, a molecule...More>>
A letter titled “Host-mediated regulation of superinfection in malaria” has been published this week on the Nature Medicine website. The authors use a mouse model to show that ongoing blood stage infections, when above a minimum threshold, are able to impair the reproduction of other malaria parasites in the liver, preventing them from developing into blood stage parasites. The...More>>
Research published today in PLoS Pathogens has confirmed that human Plasmodium knowlesi infections are being passed over from infected macaque monkey populations in Malaysian Borneo, and not transmitted human to human.
The study was led by Professor Balbir Singh at the Malaria Research Centre, University Malaysia Sarawak, collaborating with Sarawak State Health Department, St George's...More>>
In a study funded by the Wellcome Trust, geographers, biologists and statisticians at the University of Oxford, together with colleagues from the KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme in Kenya, have produced the first detailed global map showing the distribution of the sickle-cell gene. The results are published with open access in the journal 'Nature Communications'
The study aimed to document...More>>
The aim of The Human Heredity and Health in Africa Project (H3Africa) is to support African scientists conducting population-based genetic studies, in Africa, of common, non-communicable disorders, for instance heart disease and cancer, and communicable diseases like malaria. The African Society for Human Genetics will help to organise researchers in Africa. The researchers that...More>>
A Wellcome Trust Advanced Course is to be held on Genomic Epidemiology in Africa at the KEMRI/Wellcome Trust Research Programme in Kilifi, Kenya from 28 Nov - 3 Dec 2010. Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have become a powerful tool for obtaining clues to the genetics of resistance and susceptibility to disease. This computer-based course, will follow the experimental process; starting...More>>
MapSeq, an interactive web-based database of genome variation in the malaria parasite, has recently been launched. As described in the international IT magazine WIRED: “The latest anti-malaria weapon is not a drug -- it's data. If you can sequence the genomes of thousands of malaria parasites and of the Anopheles mosquitoes that carry them, you can spot genetic mutations that can...More>>
Researchers working with MalariaGEN have published a new review; “Methodological challenges of genome-wide association analysis in Africa”. The review discusses how genome-wide association (GWA) studies in Africa have the potential to give valuable insights into infectious and non-communicable diseases. GWA studies in Africa have some methodological challenges that are not usually...More>>
Researchers from the MalariaGEN Consortium have published a new paper in PLoS Medicine discussing the MalariaGEN Data Release Policy. The paper highlights the challenges in generating an ethical data release policy that acknowledges the interests of all stakeholders involved in genome-wide association studies, and discusses how MalariaGEN sought to address these.
The paper was also...More>>
MalariaGEN hosted a Symposium 'Toward Genomic Epidemiology of Malaria: Progress, Challenges, and Potential' at the Multi-Lateral Initiative on Malaria (MIM) Conference in Nairobi on November 2nd, 2009.
The session focused on how large-scale studies of genome variation in developing countries pose new scientific, ethical and practical challenges; yet offer an unprecedented opportunity to...More>>
The world's largest malaria conference opened today with a call for substantial and sustained support for research to guide evidence-based policies and the development of new malaria tools, which together could save countless lives.
The 5th Multilateral Initiative on Malaria (MIM) Pan-African Conference brings together 2,000 researchers, health workers, public health officials, policymakers...More>>
MalariaGEN partners across 14 malaria-endemic countries have worked with local communities to recruit over 50,000 samples in the last 4 years. Each partner has designed and implemented their own local study into the natural mechanisms of resistence to malaria. Learn more about the challenges faced and experiences gained by these partners.
MalariaGEN data fellows share their experiences in the...More>>
MalariaGEN's Consortial Project 2 aims to understand the functional effects of genetic variation on the immune response to malaria. Eight partners in malaria-endemic countries are involved and new study descriptions are now available which provide information on the study populations, morbidity, infection densities and clinical data. These sites are:
Burkina Faso: The Centre National de...More>>
The National Academy of Pharmacy of France has awarded Dr Abdoulaye Djimdé its "Prix de la Pharmacie Francophone". Dr Djimdé is a research scientist from the Malaria Research and Training Center (MRTC), University of Bamako, and Malian EDCTP Senior Fellow. The prize is in recognition of his outstanding contribution within the Francophone community. The Award was presented to Dr Djimdé in the...More>>
A study of children with malaria in The Gambia, West Africa, has provided new insights into how to conduct genetic studies of common diseases in African populations, which are far more genetically-diverse than European or Asian populations.
Scientists believe that a wide range of genetic factors affect an individual's ability to resist malaria, and MalariaGEN researchers are attempting to...More>>
MalariaGEN's first paper was published in Nature on December 11th 2008. The Commentary Article A global network for investigating the genomic epidemiology of malaria explores how MalariaGEN has used a consortial approach to overcome the challenges of undertaking genome wide association studies of malaria.
The paper describes how MalariaGEN established a global research network, how the...More>>
A keystone of MalariaGEN's scientific programme is to use genome-wide association (GWA) analysis to discover genes that determine resistance to severe malaria. This is the focus of Consortial Project 1, which includes study sites in 11 malaria-endemic countries.
GWA studies of malaria present many methodological challenges, which largely arise from the great genetic diversity of African...More>>