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Genotyping Malarial Parasites: Use of Microsatellites to Develop an Alternative Molecular Technique to Distinguish Recrudescence from Reinfection of Plasmodium falciparum

Atunga NYACHIEO student laureate
anyachieo@yahoo.com

°1976 Kenya
Bachelor’s in biochemistry, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture, Nairobi, Kenya, 1999

Genotyping Malarial Parasites: Use of Microsatellites to Develop an Alternative Molecular Technique to Distinguish Recrudescence from Reinfection of Plasmodium falciparum

Malaria (paludism) is a serious endemic disease in many developing countries (sub-Saharan Africa, South America and South-East Asia), killing up to 4500 people per day, including 3000 children under the age of five. The disease is difficult to control because of the resistance of mosquitoes (the intermediary vectors) to insecticides and the resistance of the parasites themselves to medical treatment.
In connection with his final dissertation, Mr A. Nyachieo used modern molecular biology techniques in a bid to improve the diagnosis of patients infected by resistant parasites (recrudescence) or infected by another sub-group of parasites (reinfection). Genotyping of parasites is currently based on polymorphous genes found on their surface. These genes are submitted to considerable immune pressure (because of the immune defences of infected persons) that can lead to an invalid interpretation of results, making diagnosis inaccurate. Mr Nyachieo used ADN markers corresponding to microsatellite sequences (not subject to the host’s immune pressures) and observed a reduction in the errors of classifications between recrudescence and reinfection. These preliminary results are a first step in improving the delimitation of the target group and the therapeutic strategies to be adopted to combat the disease. Moreover, the technique will also in future permit the testing of the selectivity and effectiveness of new molecules to fight the disease.
It is hoped that the work of Mr A Nyachieo will give the governments of the countries affected by this scourge the means to adapt specific therapeutic strategies effectively to bring relief to their populations and, in the long term, to reduce the economic impact of this disease on the development of their countries.
 

report by Dr Xavier Pesesse, Institute of Interdisciplinary Research into Human and Molecular Biology, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium