Genetic Variation and Evolution of Artemisinin Resistance Malaria is one of the biggest killers in the world. The 2010 World Malaria Report estimates that almost 225 million people each year become acutely ill from the disease-and approximately one million will die from malaria. In the absence of an effective malaria vaccine, chemotherapy remains the mainstay for treatment and prevention of the disease. Genetic variability of the most dangerous type of malaria, Plasmodium falciparum, underlies its transmission success and impedes efforts to control disease. Drug resistance to antimalarial drugs such as antifolates and chloroquine has spread from Asia throughout Africa and resistance to second and third line drugs is now commonplace. Using the tools of population genetics and genomics, the "Genetic Variation and Evolution of Artemisinin Resistance" project will expand our fundamental understanding of both the genetic variation of malaria and microbial drug resistance among malaria parasites by confirming artemisinin resistance phenotypes, identify the gene (or genes) involved in artemisinin drug resistance, and validate the candidate gene (or genes) involved in artemisinin resistance. Because the emergence of drug resistance threatens to outpace the development of effective new antimalarial drugs, the development of an early warning system for emerging resistance is an essential component to defeating malaria.

Public Health Relevance

Genetic Variation and Evolution of Artemisinin Resistance Chemotherapy remains the mainstay for treatment and prevention of malaria, with current efforts focused on the use of artemisinin-based antimalarial drugs in combination with other partner compounds. New reports of emerging drug resistance signal a threat to the effectiveness of these artemisinin-based drugs. Leveraging genetic variation and evolution, we will identify genetic variants associated with changing artemisinin responses and detect the early stages of drug resistance before catastrophic loss of these still effective anti- malarial compounds takes hold.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Research Project (R01)
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Genetic Variation and Evolution Study Section (GVE)
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Joy, Deirdre A
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Harvard University
Schools of Public Health
United States
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