New papers offer insights into process of malarial drug resistance

November 26, 2008

Malaria, one of the oldest diseases known to man, has shown no signs of slowing down as it ages. More than 1 million children die from malaria in sub-Saharan Africa each year, and in areas along the Thailand/Cambodian border multiple drug-resistant strains of the disease are becoming commonplace.

With the previously mainstay antimalarial drug chloroquine nearly ineffective due to drug resistance and traditional public health approaches such as mosquito netting offering uneven results, two new papers by University of Notre Dame biologist Michael Ferdig suggest that the means of combating this old foe may lie in the new tools of genomics and bioinformatics.

In the papers, Ferdig points out that development of the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum in the blood is driven by a number of different genes expressed at different times and at different levels. Exactly what influences such transcriptional changes remains elusive, particularly in regard to important phenotypes like drug resistance.

Ferdig and his collaborators combined classical genetics with cutting-edge genomic methods to illuminate previously unrecognized transcriptional complexity and variation in Plasmodium falciparum and possibly master regulators within large copy number variants that contribute to the drug-resistant phenomena in malaria parasites.

By uncovering the genetic "architecture" of numerous drug responses and identifying key regulators that control these responses, Ferdig hopes to map new approaches to conquering drug resistant malarial genes.

One paper from the Ferdig lab appeared in the journal PLoS Biology. The second, in collaboration with Tim Anderson at Southwest Biomedical Research Foundation, appeared in PLoS Genetics.

Source: University of Notre Dame

Related Stories

Recommended for you

For faster battery charging, try a quantum battery?

August 3, 2015

(Phys.org)—Physicists have shown that a quantum battery—basically, a quantum system such as a qubit that stores energy in its quantum states—can theoretically be charged at a faster rate than conventional batteries. ...

Sundew discovery on Facebook makes plant science news

August 3, 2015

A new species of sundew has been discovered on Facebook. The find is a carnivorous sundew, Drosera magnifica. The new discovery comes from a single mountaintop in southeastern Brazil—the largest New World sundew.

Magnetism at nanoscale

August 3, 2015

As the demand grows for ever smaller, smarter electronics, so does the demand for understanding materials' behavior at ever smaller scales. Physicists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Ames Laboratory are building a unique ...

How the finch changes its tune

August 3, 2015

Like top musicians, songbirds train from a young age to weed out errors and trim variability from their songs, ultimately becoming consistent and reliable performers. But as with human musicians, even the best are not machines. ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.