Revealing drug-resistant malaria’s genetic and molecular fingerprint

2014

Challenge

Resistance to artemisinin-based antimalarial drugs, the frontline treatment for malaria worldwide, has emerged in Cambodia and other countries of Southeast Asia. To monitor and prevent the spread of artemisinin-resistant parasites, researchers must be able to identify them accurately and quickly.

Advance

IRP researcher Rick Fairhurst, M.D., Ph.D., was part of an international team that identified the first known genetic marker of artemisinin resistance in malaria parasites and subsequently characterized the molecular mechanism behind the resistance.

Impact

The ability to easily identify artemisinin-resistant parasites is a key step in preventing their spread to other malaria-endemic regions such as Africa. Further, understanding the resistance mechanisms will yield important clues for developing new malaria treatments.

Publications

Straimer J, Gnädig NF, Witkowski B, Amaratunga C, Duru V, Ramadani AP, Dacheux M, Khim N, Zhang L, Lam S, Gregory PD, Urnov FD, Mercereau-Puijalon O, Benoit-Vical F, Fairhurst RM, Ménard D, Fidock DA. (2015). K13-propeller mutations confer artemisinin resistance in Plasmodium falciparum clinical isolates. Science. 347(6220), 428-31.

Mok S, Ashley EA, Ferreira PE, Zhu L, Lin Z, Yeo T, Chotivanich K, Imwong M, Pukrittayakamee S, Dhorda M, Nguon C, Lim P, Amaratunga C, Suon S, Hien TT, Htut Y, Faiz MA, Onyamboko MA, Mayxay M, Newton PN, Tripura R, Woodrow CJ, Miotto O, Kwiatkowski DP, Nosten F, Day NP, Preiser PR, White NJ, Dondorp AM, Fairhurst RM, Bozdech Z. (2015). Population transcriptomics of human malaria parasites reveals the mechanism of artemisinin resistance. Science. 347(6220), 431-5.