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Medical News & Perspectives |

Sequencing of the Malaria Genome Opens Door to Vaccines and New Drugs

Joan Stephenson, PhD
JAMA. 2002;287(10):1251-1253. doi:10.1001/jama.287.10.1251.
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Las Vegas—The deadly scourge of malaria, a malady mentioned on clay tablets by members of an ancient civilization in 4000 BC, is yielding its secrets to 21st-century scientists who have virtually completed a 6-year effort to sequence the genome of the parasite responsible for the deadliest form of the infection.

Sequencing the Plasmodium falciparum genome—comprising approximately 5000 to 6000 genes in 14 chromosomes—has been a formidable challenge, according to the international team who decoded the genome and provided a preview of their work here at the Second Conference on Microbial Genomes, cosponsored by the American Society of Microbiology and by The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR). Now, they say, the effort is beginning to pay off, as important information from this work is made available to malaria researchers who are seeking to create vaccines and antimalarial drugs.

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The sequencing of the genomes of the malaria parasite and of its mosquito vector (Anopheles gambiae) is expected to transform research on a disease that is lethal to millions. (Photo credit: CDC/James D. Gathany)

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