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New research finds potential risk for millions in Africa believed resistant to vivax malaria
Date:11/15/2013

at encodes the parasite's Duffy-binding protein. Subsequent analysis of blood samples taken from infected subjects around the world revealed that duplication of the parasite's gene is occasionally found in other areas where vivax malaria is common. But the highest prevalence was in Madagascar. For example, less than 10 percent of the 33 samples tested from Cambodia had the duplicate gene, while it was found in over 50 percent of the 189 samples taken from Madagascar.

"It was particularly striking that most of the parasites that contained the duplicate gene came from areas where we see the population divided between Duffy-positive and Duffy-negative individuals," Serre said.

The researchers believe one possibility is that in such split populations, the Duffy-positive individuals keep parasites circulating in their communities, allowing them to frequently attempt to infect individuals who are Duffy-negative. Such repeated encounters, they say, increase the chances that a P. vivax parasite could develop a new way to penetrate red blood cells.

In Cambodia, Evidence of a New "Invasion Mechanism"

In the second study, the researchers analyzed the genome of a P. vivax parasite from Cambodia. They found a previously unknown gene that "harbors all the key features" of an "invasion protein" for gaining access to red blood cells. For example, the protein expressed by this gene is similar to proteins used by other Plasmodium parasites, including P. falciparum to cause infections.

Subsequent investigation found that this new gene is widely present in contemporary vivax parasites around the world, but with a notable exception: it is not found in the vivax parasite sequenced in 2008 that has been used by malaria scientists as the "reference" genome for studying the genetics of the parasite.

The ASTMH Annual Meeting is the premier international gathering for those working in malaria, note
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Contact: Preeti Singh
psingh@burnesscommunications.com
301-280-5722

Bridget DeSimone
bdesimone@burnesscommunications.com
301.280.5735

American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
Source:Eurekalert


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