It is for the first time when a team from the Broad Institute, Harvard University and African researchers, together will be studying the genome of a malaria parasite. The study has found that newly identified gene mutation in the parasite’s genome leads to drug resistance to many anti-malarial drugs.
For the study, the researchers were required to develop the necessary DNA sequencing and analysis tools. The researchers by using infected blood samples, collected previously, isolated the P. falciparum parasite and sequenced its DNA.
In the next step, they performed a genome-wide association study (GWAS), which helped them to look for unique genetic variations between the 57 parasite isolates from Africa, Asia and South America, where malaria is commonly found.
It is hoped by the team that their study will help finding emerging drug resistance trends before they become widespread and difficult to handle.
The researchers said that the goal of the study is to anticipate the problem and then to deal with it. They further said that the possible measures to deal with the problem could be switching the drug treatment, using intense parasite-control measures, to eliminate all the drug-practices before they had a chance to spread and to apply public health practices.