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New weapon in the fight against malaria drug resistance

As part of a team of researchers led by the Centers for Infectious Disease Research (Seattle) and in partnership with the University of Notre Dame, scientists at Texas Biomed helped to develop a new tool in the fight against malaria, which kills an estimated 600 thousand people every year and has developed resistance to all available classes of antimalarial drugs.

The scientists have developed a more efficient method for creating genetic crosses between the protozoan parasites that cause malaria which could rapidly increase understanding of malaria drug resistance. Understanding drug resistance could eventually lead to more effective treatment and potentially better drugs.

Dr. Tim Anderson discusses work in malaria and other parasitic diseases.

“Genetic crosses – in which we mate two parasites together and look at the characteristics of their offspring – have been an incredibly powerful tool to use with malaria parasites, but they are extremely difficult to do because they require use of a human or chimpanzee,” explained Tim Anderson Scientist in the Department of Genetics at Texas Biomed. “The three crosses done in past 25 years resulted in identification of parasite genes underlying resistance to multiple malaria drugs and informed multiple areas of parasite biology. This new method is cheaper, utilizing mice rather than chimpanzees, thereby allowing us to set up bigger crosses and making our work more powerful.”
This work was published online (cover story) in the July 1st edition of Nature Methods [link]. Work on this project at Texas Biomed was conducted by Dr. Ian Cheeseman and Senior Research Associate Shalini Nair. Click here for the full news release from the Center for Infectious Disease Research.