2014-06-16. A Faster Way to Find the Origin of Malaria.

posted Jun 21, 2014, 8:20 PM by Alan Gould
For GSS Losing Biodiversity chapter 4. Excerpt: By using a DNA “bar code” of 23 short snips from the genes of parasites that cause malaria, scientists can now often quickly determine where they originated, British researchers report. The information could be useful in fighting local outbreaks, which may be caused by parasites from other parts of the world. And it should be possible to make a test kit that will get that information from a spot of dried blood in two hours — far less time than is needed to sequence a whole genome. For the study, published on Friday in the journal Nature Communications, researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine analyzed the DNA of more than 700 malaria-causing parasites from all over the world. For Plasmodium falciparum — the most dangerous species — they found 23 consistent mutations that let them tell, with 92 percent accuracy, whether a strain was from West Africa, East Africa, Southeast Asia, South America or the South Pacific. They still hope to find markers that distinguish strains from Central America, the Caribbean, southern Africa and the Indian subcontinent.... http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/17/health/a-faster-way-to-find-the-origin-of-malaria.html. By Donald G. McNeil Jr, The New York Times.