Groundbreaking research done at Singapore's Nanyang Technological University's (NTU) School of Biological Sciences (SBS) could lead to the development of more potent drugs or a vaccine for malaria, which is transmitted to humans by infected mosquitoes and kills up to three million people each year.
Assistant Professor Zbynek Bozdech and his team of researchers, including graduate students and post-doctorals from SBS' Division of Genomics & Genetics, have scored a world first in successfully using transcriptional profiling to uncover hitherto unknown gene expression (activity) patterns in malaria.
The research team's breakthrough made the January 2010 edition of the top-ranked journal, Nature Biotechnology, which is a satellite publication of Nature, the world's leading peer-reviewed journal.
Transcriptional profiling is the measurement of the activity of thousands of genes at once, to create a global picture of cellular function. These profiles can, for example, distinguish between cells that are actively dividing, or show how the cells react to a particular treatment.
This outcome in infectious disease pathology could potentially be the decade's big breakthrough as it has yielded critical information about how the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum the most deadly form of malaria responds to existing compounds with curative potential.
The genome or the complete DNA content of the Plasmodium falciparum has about 5,300 genes. Up till now, scientists have a good understanding of the gene functions for only about half of the more than 5,000 genes. Using transcriptional profiling, Asst Prof Zbynek Bozdech's team has successfully uncovered the gene functions for almost the entire genome, with more than 90 percent of the gene functions from the previously unknown half now better understood.
"Drawing on our findings, pharmaceutical companies could explore ways to design a drug that targets
|Contact: Hisham Hambari|
Nanyang Technological University