British researchers have found a quicker way to find the origin of malaria
Using DNA “bar code” of 23 short snips from the genes of parasites that cause malaria, British researchers have reported that scientists are now able to quickly determine where the outbreak originated.
This information is going to be very useful when combating against local outbreaks, which may have been caused from parasites from other parts of the world. This new process should make it possible to make a test kit that will get the information from a spot of dried blood in two hours, which is far less time than what is needed to sequence a whole genome.
The study, published on Friday in the journal Nature Communications, researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine analysed the DNA of more than 700 malaria-causing parasites from all over the world.
Malaria can still have outbreaks even in places where it has thought to have been wiped out
Dr. Michelle Hsiang, a malaria researcher at the University of California, San Francisco, said that in central China, for example, outbreaks had been seeded by workers returning from Africa or tourists returning from South-east Asia. Knowing a strain’s origins can indicate who should be tested first and can alert doctors to a possible drug-resistant strain; that problem is now widespread only in South-east Asia.
Many research teams, including Dr. Hsiang’s, are working on variations of the London team’s work, with some hoping to tell what country a case came from, or even what island. With lots of advances in malaria treatment it seems that scientists are well and truly taking the fight to malaria.
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