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Curr Genet. 2008 Nov;54(5):223-39. doi: 10.1007/s00294-008-0214-x. Epub 2008 Sep 18.

Drug resistance and genetic mapping in Plasmodium falciparum.

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  • 1Laboratory of Malaria and Vector Research, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, 9000 Rockville Pike, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.


Drug resistance in malaria parasites is a serious public health burden, and resistance to most of the antimalarial drugs currently in use has been reported. A better understanding of the molecular mechanisms of drug resistance is urgently needed to slow or circumvent the spread of resistance, to allow local treatments to be deployed more effectively to prolong the life span of the current drugs, and to develop new drugs. Although mutations in genes determining resistance to drugs such as chloroquine and the antifolates have been identified, we still do not have a full understanding of the resistance mechanisms, and genes that contribute to resistance to many other drugs remain to be discovered. Genetic mapping is a powerful tool for the identification of mutations conferring drug resistance in malaria parasites because most drug-resistant phenotypes were selected within the past 60 years. High-throughput methods for genotyping large numbers of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and microsatellites (MSs) are now available or are being developed, and genome-wide association studies for malaria traits will soon become a reality. Here we discuss strategies and issues related to mapping genes contributing to drug resistance in the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum.

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