Researchers at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) presented data on Monday regarding gene sequences and the global variations in malaria parasites.
NIAID researchers determined the genomes of approximately 200 P. vivax strains that recently infected people in eight different countries. The comparative analysis showed that parasites clustered into four genetically-distinct populations. Providing insights into the movement of P. vivax over time suggests how it still adapts to regional variations in both mosquitos and humans.
“P. vivax malaria has historically been overshadowed by the more lethal disease caused by P. falciparum parasites,” Anthony Fauci, director of NIAID, said. “However, there are some 16 million cases of clinical malaria due to P. vivax infection worldwide each year, imposing a large public health burden on many countries. The wealth of genomic information provided by this new research shows the high degree of genetic variability in the P. vivax population and gives us a clearer picture of the challenges we face in developing drugs or vaccines against it.”
The study was led and published by Drs. Jane Carlton of New York University and Daniel Neafsey of the Broad Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
In addition to the work provided by Carlton and Neafsey, researchers noted the key role that the NIAID-supported International Centers of Excellence for Malaria Research played in the new genome study.
“The study would not have been possible without the ongoing dedication of this large group of collaborators at the participating ICEMRs,” Carlton said.