Notre Dame researchers using novel method to combat malaria drug resistancePosted: April 7, 2012
The Notre Dame team, working with the project leaders at Texas Biomedical, used the new genomics and bioinformatics approaches to investigate malaria drug-resistance. Tan of Notre Dame’s Genomics and Bioinformatics Core Facility, working with Miller and other members of the Ferdig team was instrumental in developing the gene chip to perform detailed genetic analysis of malaria patient samples. This chip can analyze 7,000 informative “SNPs” (single nucleotide polymorphisms) spaced evenly throughout the parasite genome.
“This gives researchers the ability to ‘see’ how the genome is changing under drug selection,’ Tan said. “This is especially valuable in Southeast Asia because it is a hotspot for anti-malarial drug resistance.”
Resistance has been confirmed in Cambodia and is emerging in Thailand. There has been no concerted use of artemisinin in Laos. These conditions enabled researchers to identify genome regions showing signatures of emerging drug resistance. The Texas group then zeroes in on these regions in more than 700 patients to find candidate genes that could be the cause of resistance.