A new study led by the Assistant Professor, Dr. Ian Cheeseman from the Texas Biomedical Research Institute reveals the origin of the complex malaria infections. The latest technology using the genome sequencing of the parasite which causes malaria has shown surprising results and help in making the latest intervention strategies to combat this deadly malaria infection.
The study is published in the latest volume of the journal: Cell Host & Microbe.
Malaria is a mosquito-borne infection that is caused by the Plasmodium and is spread human-to-human by the bite of Anopheles mosquitoes infected with plasmodium.
Dr. Cheeseman said that they don’t have any information about what’s inside these malaria infections and know nothing about the number of genetically distinct strains of plasmodium parasites. They are unaware of the relation of these strains and the infectivity of parasites. They have no information about the origin of these mosquitoes.
To find the answers to the above questions and confusion Dr. Cheeseman and his team turned they’re focused on single-cell genome sequencing. With the help of this technology, single cells of malaria parasites are isolated and before analyzing the genome with the help of genome sequencer, their genome was amplified. This allows researchers to know the genetic mutations in an isolated cell. This helped the cancer researchers to understand the science behind tumors. It is the first time that genome sequencing was used for the study of malaria transmission.
Dr. Cheeseman and his collaborating team studied the malaria-infected singe cells from the patients in Malawai, the country which is heavily burdened by the malaria infectious diseases. Malaria patients who participated in the diseases and donated their blood samples reside in Chikwana. Chikwana is a region with a huge population of the mosquito where every 48-hour people are bitten by the mosquito infected with malaria.
The single-cell genome sequencing applied in this latest study gives the picture of the possibility of infection from the infected mosquito bite. The findings of this study were opposite to that of conventional wisdom. Almost all the studied infections were because of the one mosquito bite.
The lead author of the study and a Malawian national, Dr. Standwell Nkhoma said that they found that deadly and complex infections were predominantly caused by the bite of single mosquito transmitting related but genetically diverse parasites into patient’s bloodstream
This finding helps the scientists for designing effective interventions to block the spread of malaria by the infected mosquitoes and to create more developed models for the prediction of the spread of drug resistance and transmission patterns of malaria. The increase in the resistance of antimalarial drugs is one of the major threats for global malaria control as the resistance to these antimalarial drugs; piperaquine and artemisinin are continues to spread.
According to the World Health Organization, malaria infects almost 200 million individuals and kills above 400,000 people yearly. Dr. Cheeseman concluded that any effort made for the understanding of this disease will make a huge impact globally.