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New technique to combat malaria

18 June 2012 09:20

Malaria can be passed on via the bite of a mosquito

Malaria can be passed on via the bite of a mosquito

Significant advances in the fight against the deadly disease malaria have been made, according to a team of researchers.

The experts say they can monitor the levels of resistance to malaria drugs better and recognise malaria parasite evolution more easily.

The international team used patients' blood samples to research the genetic maps of the malaria parasites. They said this information can be utilised to track the disease as it evolves and to also monitor how the parasite population is changing.

Mosquitoes spread the disease which infects more than 200 million people each year and the most dangerous forms of malaria are instigated by the parasite plasmodium falciparum. To guard against tropical diseases such as malaria it is important to secure medical travel insurance.

Dominic Kwiatkowski, leader of the research team at Britain's Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and Oxford University, said: "If we want to control resistance, we first need to be able to monitor the genetic diversity of P. falciparum and identify hotspots of potential resistance as they occur.

"Rapid sequencing of parasite genomes from the blood of infected people is a powerful way of detecting changes in the parasite population and potentially an important new surveillance tool ... for controlling malaria."

The findings were published in the journal Nature.