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New malaria genome data published

Thursday February 25th 2021

New genome variation data on more than 7,000 malaria parasites will help in the development of treatments, surveillance tools for malaria control and elimination, British researchers have reported.

Produced by the Malaria Genomic Epidemiology Network (MalariaGEN), a data-sharing network of groups around the world, and published in Wellcome Open research, it represents the world’s largest resource of genomic data on malaria parasite evolution and drug resistance.

The latest publication represents the results of 49 partner studies at 73 locations in Africa, Asia, South America and Oceania, which collectively contributed 7,113 samples of P. falciparum for genome sequencing.

Researchers at the Wellcome Sanger Institute, Cambridge, UK, analysed each sample for more than three million genetic variants and the data were curated before returning to partners for use in their own research.

Co-author Dr Richard Pearson, from the Wellcome Sanger Institute, said: “We have created a data resource that is ‘analysis ready’ for anyone to use, including those without specialist genetics training. Each annotated dataset sample includes key features that are relevant to malaria control, such as resistance to six major anti-malarial drugs, and whether it carries particular structural changes that cause diagnostic malaria tests to fail. Like the Human Genome Project was a resource for the analyses of human genome sequence data, we hope this will be one of the main resources for malaria research.”

Co-author Professor Abdoulaye Djimde from the University of Science, Techniques and Technologies of Bamako, Mali, added: “A quantitative assessment of how malaria parasites respond to public health interventions is key for a successful and sustainable elimination campaign. Over time, this openly available resource will facilitate research into the malaria parasite’s evolutionary processes, which will ultimately inform effective and sustainable malaria control and elimination strategies that will be key in ending this devastating disease.”

MalariaGEN provides researchers and control programmes in malaria-endemic countries with access to DNA sequencing technologies and tools for genomic analysis. It has partners in 39 countries, each of which leads its own studies into different aspects of malaria biology and epidemiology.

Ahouidi A, Ali M, Almagro-Garcia j et al. An open dataset of Plasmodium falciparum genome variation in 7,000 worldwide samples. Wellcome Open Research 24 February 2021.


Tags: Africa | Asia | Genetics | South America | UK News

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