THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 2016

New genome technique looks to rein in malaria

A new research technique, single-cell genomics, may provide a new look into the biology of malaria parasites that could be used to control and treat the disease.

The Wellcome Trust and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) funded the research in order to gain a better understanding of the complex mixtures of Plasmodium parasites that cause the disease. The mixtures consist of multiple genotype infections (MGI's), which have the ability to increase the spread of the infection.

"Up to 70 percent of infections in sub-Saharan Africa are MGI's and we currently don't know how many genotypes are present and whether parasites come from a single mosquito bite or multiple mosquito bites," First Study Author Shalini Nair said.

Genome sequencing techniques are currently grouped, which makes it is nearly impossible to track differences between individual parasites found in cells. Single-cell genomics isolate and separate the cells to determine any variations.

"Current sequencing techniques really limit our understanding of malaria parasite biology" Dr. Ian Cheeseman, who led the study, said. "It's like trying to understand human genetics by making DNA from everyone in a village at once. The data is all jumbled up, but what we really want is information from individuals."

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