Navigation Links
Analysis reveals malaria, other diseases as ancient, adaptive and persistent foes
Date:11/2/2011

CORVALLIS, Ore. One of the most comprehensive analyses yet done of the ancient history of insect-borne disease concludes for the first time that malaria is not only native to the New World, but it has been present long before humans existed and has evolved through birds and monkeys.

The findings, presented in a recent issue of American Entomologist by researchers from Oregon State University, are based on the study of insect specimens preserved in amber.

The study outlines the evolution of several human diseases, including malaria, leishmaniasis and trypanosomiasis. It makes clear that these pathogens have existed for at least 100 million years, and suggests that efforts to conquer them will be an uphill battle against such formidable and adaptive foes.

"Amber tells us that these diseases have been here for many millions of years, have co-evolved with their hosts and move readily from one species to another," said George Poinar, Jr., a professor of zoology at OSU and one of the world's leading experts on the study of fossils in this semi-precious stone.

"Malaria is one of the greatest insect-borne killers in human history, and more than one million people a year are still dying from it," Poinar said. "But the evolutionary record suggests it can easily change its protein coat in response to vertebrate immune reactions. That's why it's always becoming resistant to drugs, and efforts to create vaccines will be very difficult."

Insects preserved for tens of millions of years are offering new clues to the ancient history of these diseases. Blood-feeding vectors trapped eons ago in oozing tree sap reveal in near-perfect detail stages of vertebrate pathogens they were carrying when they became entombed.

"Most people think of malaria as a tropical disease, which today it primarily is," Poinar said. "But historically it occurred in many parts of the world, including temperate zones."

"As recently as 1935 there were 900,000 cases of malaria in the United States," he said. "Near Portland, Ore., malaria almost wiped out some local Indian tribes in the 1830s, and the mosquitoes that carried it are still prevalent there. In the 1600s it hindered colonization from Massachusetts to Georgia. And there are 137 million people right now living in areas of risk in the Americas.

"It's possible epidemics could explode again, almost anywhere in the world," he said.

Having traveled much of the world to pursue amber, Poinar knows first-hand the risks involved.

"I caught malaria in the 1970s in the Ivory Coast in Africa," he said. "My arm had bumped up against some mosquito netting while I slept. The following day, I started shaking with cold, then sweating with a high fever, thinking I was going to die."

Millions have died. Globally, about 300-500 million cases of malaria occur each year, with more than a million deaths in Africa alone.

Among the points made in this report:

  • Discoveries in amber have helped to pin down the minimum ages, origins and early hosts of several insect-borne human diseases.

  • An archaic and now extinct malarial parasite was found in 100 million-year-old amber.

  • Mosquitoes carrying malaria of the genus Plasmodium, the type that causes human illness, were established in the New World at least 15 million years ago, long before modern humans existed. At that time, the disease infected various types of birds.

  • Spaniards arriving in South America found that when native peoples acquired fevers, they drank infusions of cinchona bark, which was later found to contain quinine, an effective anti-malarial drug.

  • Malaria apparently first went from birds to monkeys and eventually into humans.

Anatomically modern humans are only about 200,000 years old, experts say. These findings indicate they evolved with malaria for their entire existence.


'/>"/>

Contact: George Poinar, Jr.
poinarg@science.oregonstate.edu
541-737-5366
Oregon State University
Source:Eurekalert

Related medicine news :

1. Kaiser Analysis Finds Record Medicaid Enrollment Growth in 2009
2. New approach to immune cell analysis seen as first step to better distinguish health and disease
3. National Center for Policy Analysis and Salem Radio Network Deliver One Million Emails to Congress to Stop ObamaCare
4. Pregnancy for breast cancer survivors: Meta-analysis reveals it is safe and could improve survival
5. Improved device provides more rapid, comprehensive analysis of circulating tumor cells
6. Know What Works with Semantic Design's Test Coverage Analysis Tool for C#/.Net
7. Social Media Network Analysis Workshop
8. University of Miami College of Engineering to develop new methods for data analysis
9. Biosensor chip enables high-sensitivity protein analysis for disease diagnosis
10. MetaGeek Announces Chanalyzer Pro Spectrum Analysis Software for Wi- Spy, Adds Device Classification, Device Finder and Automated Reports
11. Voice Analysis May Allow Early Detection of Parkinsons
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:5/3/2016)... Monica, CA (PRWEB) , ... May 03, 2016 , ... ... the highest quality medical providers to build the leading network of doctors and therapists ... Eric Nepomnaschy, D.C., founder of the distinguished Bay Chiropractic and Rehabilitation in ...
(Date:5/3/2016)... ... May 03, 2016 , ... SELEX (systematic evolution ... from a random library of sequences depending on their attraction for a target ... SELEX selection is commonly performed using filters, panning, or affinity chromatography separations. However, ...
(Date:5/3/2016)... FL (PRWEB) , ... May 03, 2016 , ... ... leading innovative specialty pharmacies, will be represented at the 2016 Asembia Specialty ... Vegas. The Asembia Summit is the largest U.S. health care conference for the ...
(Date:5/3/2016)... ... May 03, 2016 , ... Boston Children’s Hospital today announced its ... situations or practice tricky or rare procedures in an environment that looks and feels ... is also available to inventors and “hackers” to develop and test new devices or ...
(Date:5/3/2016)... ... May 03, 2016 , ... ... announces Benefits Alliance Insurance Services as the latest addition to its elite stable ... comprised of Partners Wayne Blasman, David Styles, and Paul Vincent. The Firm is ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:4/29/2016)... April 29, 2016  In the next ten ... shift from systems dependent on CRTs monitors to those ... modality CRT Medical monitors and will automatically sync ... host of foreseeable benefits to this technological advancement, ... modalities have to be replaced in order to ...
(Date:4/29/2016)... 29, 2016 Glycotope GmbH, a ... announces the appointment of Dr. Alfredo Zurlo ... an oncologist with many years clinical experience and a ... His last role was at Mologen AG where he ... Board. Previously Dr. Zurlo held various positions at F ...
(Date:4/28/2016)... April 28, 2016 Research and ... Plastic Surgery Products Market 2016-2020" report to their ... , The global plastic surgery products market ... during the period 2016-2020. , ,The growing adoption of ... the growth of the market. Lasers are used to ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: