Here's a new biomarker discovery, which will make it easier to detect malaria.
Researchers from the Indian Council of Medical Research’s Jabalpur-based National Institute of Research in Tribal Health (NIRTH) have identified the genetic sequence in the body of the malaria parasite. It promises to help in the growth of a more sensitive diagnostic test for the disease.
Causes of Malaria
Malaria is caused by plasmodium parasites that are transmitted from infected Anopheles mosquitoes to humans and from one human to another as it is a communicable disease.
Currently, tests used for diagnosing malaria are based on a gene, Histidine-rich Protein 2 (HRP2), replete with amino acid Histidine. However, studies have shown that this gene is often absent in some strains of the malaria parasite. Consequently, significant levels of malaria infection were going undetected. Scientists across the world have been searching for new biomarkers that would be more effective.
There are several specific genes in every parasite that can be targeted to identify or kill it. However, these genes are not present in equal measure in all the strains of a parasite. While identifying the genes or proteins for diagnostic or therapeutic purposes, scientists choose a gene or protein that shows the least variation across different regions so that it can be used in a wider area as possible. In scientific terms, such a gene is considered to be well conserved.
In the present study, the scientists of NIRTH under ICMR looked at three genes: Glutamate Dehydrogenase, Lactate Dehydrogenase and Aldolase of Plasmodium falciparum, a variety of malarial parasite that is the deadliest. The aptest solution was found as a Glutamate Dehydrogenase enzyme whose sequencing is unique and will be used for the detection of malaria.
Scientists at NIRTH collected 514 blood samples of malaria-infected patients from the eight malaria-endemic states in the country, isolated DNA from them and amplified the three genes. The genes were then sequenced and the nucleotide composition of the samples was compared. Among the three genes, the nucleotide composition of glutamate dehydrogenase was almost the same across the samples.
Analysis of the protein structure of this gene revealed that it folded into a similar protein structure across the samples, confirming that it could be a potential biomarker for malaria.
The research team included Amreen Ahmad, Anil Kumar Verma, Sri Krishna, Neeru Singh (National Institute of Research in Tribal Health) and Anjana Sharma (Rani Durgavati University, Jabalpur). The research findings have been published in the journal PLoS One. (India Science Wire)
This research will help to eliminate malaria from our nation and will act as a key to eventually develop better detection, treatment, and eradication of the disease. Also, it will help in Global technical strategy (2016-30) announced by WHO and adopted by the World Health Assembly in May 2015 call for malaria elimination by 2030.
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