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The first detailed map of individual malaria parasite behaviour across each stage of its complicated life cycle has been created by scientists. Researchers at the Wellcome Sanger Institute and their collaborators used advanced single-cell technology to isolate individual parasites and measure their gene activity. The result is the Malaria Cell Atlas, which gives the highest resolution view of malaria parasite gene expression to date and monitors how individual parasites change as they develop in both the mosquito and human host.
Reported today in Science, the team also pinpoint particular stages in the life cycle where each malaria parasite gene is likely to play a key role in parasite development. Knowing when and where a gene is active presents possible targets in the malaria life cycle that are important for developing much-needed antimalarial drugs, vaccines, and transmission blocking strategies.
Malaria - People - Deaths - Majority - Children
Malaria affects more than 200 million people worldwide and caused nearly 450,000 deaths in 2017, the majority of which were children under five. The malaria parasite's ability to become resistant to multiple frontline drugs poses an enormous threat to malaria control. While advances are being made in vaccine development, a barrier to discovering new malaria drugs is the fact that the function of nearly half of the parasite's genes are unknown.
Understanding the diverse behaviours and gene activities of malaria parasites across their complicated life cycle is now possible with the freely available Malaria Cell Atlas data resource, created by scientists at the Wellcome Sanger Institute.
Dr - Virginia - Howick - Joint - Author
Dr. Virginia Howick, joint first author from the Wellcome Sanger Institute, said: "We've created an atlas of gene activity that spans the complete life cycle of the malaria parasite. This is the first atlas of its kind for a single-cell organism. The malaria parasite's life cycle is key to research into this disease and the Malaria Cell Atlas will help...
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