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.

Related Articles


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 December 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 December 22, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Monday, December 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Touch-Free Smart Phone Empowers Mobility-Impaired

Touch-Free Smart Phone Empowers Mobility-Impaired

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) A touch-free phone developed in Israel enables the mobility-impaired to operate smart phones with just a movement of the head. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Earthworms Provide Cancer-Fighting Bacteria

Earthworms Provide Cancer-Fighting Bacteria

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) Polish scientists isolate bacteria from earthworm intestines which they say may be used in antibiotics and cancer treatments. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Existing Chemical Compounds Could Revive Failing Antibiotics, Says Danish Scientist

Existing Chemical Compounds Could Revive Failing Antibiotics, Says Danish Scientist

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) A team of scientists led by Danish chemist Jorn Christensen says they have isolated two chemical compounds within an existing antipsychotic medication that could be used to help a range of failing antibiotics work against killer bacterial infections, such as Tuberculosis. Jim Drury went to meet him. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Hugging It Out Could Help You Ward Off A Cold

Hugging It Out Could Help You Ward Off A Cold

Newsy (Dec. 21, 2014) Carnegie Mellon researchers found frequent hugs can help people avoid stress-related illnesses. Video provided by Newsy
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

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