'Benign' malaria key driver of human evolution in Asia-Pacific
The malaria species rampant in the Asia-Pacific region has been a significant driver of evolution of the human genome, a new study has shown. An international team of researchers has shown that Plasmodium vivax malaria, the most prevalent malaria species in the Asia-Pacific, is a significant cause of genetic evolution that provides protection against malaria.
Their finding challenges the widely-accepted theory that Plasmodium falciparum, which causes the most lethal form of malaria, is the only malaria parasite capable of driving genome evolution in humans. The study was published today in the journal PLOS Medicine.
Professor Ivo Mueller from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute and Barcelona Centre for International Health Research (CRESIB) led the study, with colleagues from the Papua New Guinea Institute of Medical Research, Centre of Global Health and Diseases, US, and the University of Western Australia.
Malaria is a devastating parasitic disease that kills up to one million people a year. It is a major cause of poverty and a barrier to economic development. Approximately half of the world's population is at risk of malaria infection.
"Humans and malaria parasites have been co-evolving for thousands of years," Professor Mueller said. "Malaria has been a major force in the evolution of the human genome, with gene mutations that provide humans with some protection against the disease being preserved through natural selection because they aid in survival."
Professor Mueller said the study has challenged the perception that P. falciparum malaria is the only malaria species that affects human genome evolution. "It has long been assumed that Plasmodium falciparum, the species that causes the most severe disease and most deaths from malaria, is the most important driver of this gene selection in humans," Professor Mueller said. "Our results suggest that P. vivax malaria, though until recently widely considered to be a 'benign' form of malaria, actually causes severe enough disease to provide evolutionary selection pressures in the Asia-Pacific."
Professor Mueller said that the research team was interested in whether P. vivax malaria might be the cause of the unusually high rates of Southeast Asian ovalocytosis (SAO), a hereditary red blood cell disorder, in the Asia-Pacific region. "SAO occurs in approximately 10 to 15 per cent of the population in parts of the South West Pacific and is caused by a hereditary mutation in a single copy of a gene that makes a red blood cell membrane protein. This is almost an absurdly high frequency when you consider that inheriting two copies of the mutation is invariably fatal, so we figured it must confer a strong advantage to the carriers," he said.
The research team looked at the incidence of P. vivax and P. falciparum infections in three studies that included a total of 1975 children in Papua New Guinea aged 0-14 years. "We found that SAO-positive children were significantly protected against P. vivax infection, with 46 per cent reduction of clinical disease in infants with little or no immunity, and 52-55 per cent reduction in the risk of infection in older children. We also saw a significant decrease in parasite numbers in infants and older children, which is linked to a decrease in risk of clinical disease," Professor Mueller said.
The finding could have dramatic implications for future malaria vaccine design and development, Professor Mueller said. "Studying the mechanisms that cause SAO-positive people to be protected against P. vivax malaria could help us to better understand the mechanics of infection and help us to identify better targets for a malaria vaccine," he said.
Journal reference: PLoS Medicine
Provided by Walter and Eliza Hall Institute
- Combination drug treatment can cut malaria by 30 percent Apr 02, 2012 | not rated yet | 0
- New technology improves malaria control and vaccine development Jun 05, 2012 | not rated yet | 0
- Improving human immunity to malaria Aug 01, 2012 | not rated yet | 0
- Sequencing of malaria genomes reveals challenges, opportunities in battle against parasite Aug 05, 2012 | not rated yet | 0
- Monkeys provide reservoir for human malaria in South-east Asia Apr 07, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- Motion perception revisited: High Phi effect challenges established motion perception assumptions Apr 23, 2013 | 3 / 5 (2) | 2
- Anything you can do I can do better: Neuromolecular foundations of the superiority illusion (Update) Apr 02, 2013 | 4.5 / 5 (11) | 5
- The visual system as economist: Neural resource allocation in visual adaptation Mar 30, 2013 | 5 / 5 (2) | 9
- Separate lives: Neuronal and organismal lifespans decoupled Mar 27, 2013 | 4.9 / 5 (8) | 0
- Sizing things up: The evolutionary neurobiology of scale invariance Feb 28, 2013 | 4.8 / 5 (10) | 14
How can there be a term called "intestinal metaplasia" of stomach
19 hours ago Hello everyone, Ok Stomach's normal epithelium is simple columnar, now in intestinal type of adenocarcinoma of stomach it undergoes "intestinal...
Pressure-volume curve: Elastic Recoil Pressure don't make sense
May 18, 2013 From pressure-volume curve of the lung and chest wall (attached photo), I don't understand why would the elastic recoil pressure of the lung is...
If you became brain-dead, would you want them to pull the plug?
May 17, 2013 I'd want the rest of me to stay alive. Sure it's a lousy way to live but it beats being all-the-way dead. Maybe if I make it 20 years they'll...
MRI bill question
May 15, 2013 Dear PFers, The hospital gave us a $12k bill for one MRI (head with contrast). The people I talked to at the hospital tell me that they do not...
Ratio of Hydrogen of Oxygen in Dessicated Animal Protein
May 13, 2013 As an experiment, for the past few months I've been consuming at least one portion of Jell-O or unflavored Knox gelatin per day. I'm 64, in very...
Alcohol and acetaminophen
May 13, 2013 Edit: sorry for the typo in the title , can't edit I looked around on google quite a bit and it's very hard to find precise information on the...
- More from Physics Forums - Medical Sciences
More news stories
Trends in Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) and smoking explain a significant proportion of the decline of intestinal-type noncardia gastric adenocarcinoma (NCGA) incidence in US men between 1978 and 2008, and are estimated ...
Medical research 9 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
Widely available in pharmacies and health stores, phosphatidylserine is a natural food supplement produced from beef, oysters, and soy. Proven to improve cognition and slow memory loss, it's a popular treatment for older ...
Medical research 14 hours ago | 5 / 5 (2) | 0 |
Researchers at Emory University have identified a protein that stimulates a pair of "orphan receptors" found in the brain, solving a long-standing biological puzzle and possibly leading to future treatments for neurological ...
Medical research 14 hours ago | 5 / 5 (1) | 0 |
Australian scientists have charted the path of insulin action in cells in precise detail like never before. This provides a comprehensive blueprint for understanding what goes wrong in diabetes.
Medical research 15 hours ago | 4.6 / 5 (7) | 0 |
Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine will study gender differences in how the heart uses and stores fat—its main energy source—and how changes in fat metabolism play ...
Medical research 18 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
(Medical Xpress)—Native peoples in regions where cameras are uncommon sometimes react with caution when their picture is taken. The fear that something must have been stolen from them to create the photo ...
15 hours ago | 4.2 / 5 (5) | 0 |
(Medical Xpress)—Despite spending billions of dollars on research and development, drug companies have been unable to come up with effective treatments for dementia and Alzheimer's Disease (AD). Now, A. ...
13 hours ago | 4.9 / 5 (11) | 0 |
An experimental sleeping pill from US drug company Merck is effective at helping people fall and stay asleep, according to reviewers at the US Food and Drug Administration, which could soon approve the new drug.
8 hours ago | 3 / 5 (2) | 0
Activating an enzyme known to play a role in the anti-aging benefits of calorie restriction delays the loss of brain cells and preserves cognitive function in mice, according to a study published in the May ...
9 hours ago | 5 / 5 (4) | 0 |
A drug commonly used to treat depression and anxiety may improve a stress-related heart condition in people with stable coronary heart disease, according to researchers at Duke Medicine.
10 hours ago | 5 / 5 (1) | 0 |
Researchers at USC have found that a class of pharmaceuticals can both prevent and treat Alzheimer's Disease in mice.
12 hours ago | 5 / 5 (6) | 0 |