Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Malaria threat is as old as humanity, new research shows

Date:
June 18, 2010
Source:
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
Summary:
New research shows that malaria is tens of thousands of years older than previously thought. This has the potential to inform new control strategies for the disease. Using DNA techniques scientists have found that the potentially deadly tropical disease evolved alongside anatomically modern humans and moved with our ancestors as they migrated out of Africa around 60-80,000 years ago.

Anopheles gambiae mosquitoes -- the principal vector of malaria in Africa.
Credit: CDC/Mary F. Adams, MA, MS

New research by scientists funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) shows that malaria is tens of thousands of years older than previously thought. An international team, led by researchers at Imperial College London, have found that the potentially deadly tropical disease evolved alongside anatomically modern humans and moved with our ancestors as they migrated out of Africa around 60-80,000 years ago.

The research is published in the journal Current Biology.

The findings and the techniques in the study could be important in informing current control strategies aimed at reducing the prevalence of malaria. There are an estimated 230 million cases each year, causing between 1 and 3 million deaths, and around 1.4bn people are considered to be at risk of infection.

Dr Francois Balloux from the Medical Research Council (MRC) Centre for Outbreak Analysis and Modelling at Imperial College London was lead researcher on the project. He said: "Most recent work to understand how malaria has spread across the tropics has worked on the premise that the disease arose alongside the development of agriculture around 10,000 years ago. Our research shows that the malaria parasite has evolved and spread alongside humans and is at least as old as the event of the human expansion out of Africa 60-80,000 years ago."

The international team worked on the largest collection of malaria parasites ever assembled. By characterising them by DNA sequencing they were able to track the progress of malaria across the tropics and to calculate the age of the parasite. The scientists discovered clear correlation of decreasing genetic diversity with distance from sub-Saharan Africa. This accurately mirrored the same data for humans suggesting strong evidence of co-evolution and migration.

Dr Balloux said: "The genetic sequencing of the malaria parasite shows a geographic spread pattern with striking similarities to studies on humans. This points to a shared geographic origin, age and route of spread around the world. This understanding is important because despite the prevalence and deadly impact of malaria little research has previously been done to understand the genetic variation of the parasite. The genetic diversity of malaria parasites is central to their threat as it helps them to overcome the immune system and to develop drug resistance, making this research vital in informing new and more effective control strategies."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Tanabe et al. Plasmodium falciparum Accompanied the Human Expansion out of Africa. Current Biology, 2010; DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2010.05.053

Cite This Page:

Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council. "Malaria threat is as old as humanity, new research shows." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 June 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100617120718.htm>.
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council. (2010, June 18). Malaria threat is as old as humanity, new research shows. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100617120718.htm
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council. "Malaria threat is as old as humanity, new research shows." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100617120718.htm (accessed July 22, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Gilead's $1000-a-Pill Drug Could Cure Hep C in HIV-Positive People

Gilead's $1000-a-Pill Drug Could Cure Hep C in HIV-Positive People

TheStreet (July 21, 2014) New research shows Gilead Science's drug Sovaldi helps in curing hepatitis C in those who suffer from HIV. In a medical study, the combination of Gilead's Hep C drug with anti-viral drug Ribavirin cured 76% of HIV-positive patients suffering from the most common hepatitis C strain. Hepatitis C and related complications have been a top cause of death in HIV-positive patients. Typical medication used to treat the disease, including interferon proteins, tended to react badly with HIV drugs. However, Sovaldi's %1,000-a-pill price tag could limit the number of patients able to access the treatment. TheStreet's Keris Lahiff reports from New York. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com
$23.6 Billion Awarded To Widow In Smoking Lawsuit

$23.6 Billion Awarded To Widow In Smoking Lawsuit

Newsy (July 20, 2014) Cynthia Robinson claims R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company hid the health and addiction risks of its products, leading to the death of her husband in 1996. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Tooth Plaque Provides Insight Into Diets Of Ancient People

Tooth Plaque Provides Insight Into Diets Of Ancient People

Newsy (July 19, 2014) Research on plaque from ancient teeth shows that our prehistoric ancestor's had a detailed understanding of plants long before developing agriculture. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Contaminated Water Kills 3 Babies in South African Town

Contaminated Water Kills 3 Babies in South African Town

AFP (July 18, 2014) Contaminated water in South Africa's northwestern town of Bloemhof kills three babies and hospitalises over 500 people. The incident highlights growing fears over water safety in South Africa. Duration: 02:22 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins