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Duffy-negative blood types no longer protected from P. Vivax malaria
Date:3/15/2010

ntigen is missing the parasite is not able to invade the red blood cell and cause disease.

"The study confirms that P. vivax is not dependent on the Duffy antigen for establishing blood-stage infection and disease in Madagascar. Evolution of new parasite strains, infiltrating a new group of people who are Duffy-negative, seems to be occurring within a population of people from different ethnic backgrounds," says Peter A. Zimmerman, Ph.D., the study's senior author and Professor of International Health, Genetics and Biology in the Center for Global Health and Diseases at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. "These findings will have a major impact on efforts to eliminate malaria worldwide, particularly in large regions of Duffy-negative west, central and southern Africa."

The study's findings suggest that population mixing on the island of Madagascar increases the Duffy-negative's susceptibility to P. vivax. With ancestors of both Duffy-negative Africa and Duffy-positive Southeast Asia in Madagascar, P. vivax has steady opportunity to attempt infection of Duffy-negative red blood cells. Through these opportunities, and the lifecycle necessity of blood-stage infection, P. vivax strains in Madagascar may be optimizing an otherwise cryptic invasion pathway.

Malaria, one of the world's "big three" diseases, is a major health problem. Forty percent of the world's 6.5 billion people live in areas where malaria transmission occurs. As many as three million people are diagnosed with new cases of P. vivax malaria each year, which is one of the four types of malaria. "It will be imperative for the global health community to find ways to prevent the spread of these new strains of P. vivax to the continent of Africa," says Dr. Zimmerman.

In Madagascar, malaria is endemic to more than three-quarters of the island. With almost one million clinical cases reported each year, this disease i
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Contact: Jessica Studeny
jessica.studeny@case.edu
216-368-4692
Case Western Reserve University
Source:Eurekalert

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