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Public Health Genomics. 2013;16(1-2):37-43. doi: 10.1159/000345607. Epub 2013 Mar 18.

Malaria diagnostics and surveillance in the post-genomic era.

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Malaria Branch, Division of Parasitic Diseases and Malaria, Center for Global Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA 30333, USA.


Genome sequences are available for 3 human-infecting malaria parasites, Plasmodium falciparum, P. vivax and P. knowlesi, and population genomics data are available for many endemic regions. This review summarizes how genomic data have been used to develop new, species-specific molecular targets for better malaria diagnosis. The combination of bioinformatics and genomics has been used to identify new sequence targets suitable for diagnostic applications and assess their viability within the context of global Plasmodium sequence variation. The selection criteria maximized the sensitivity and specificity of the novel targets. At least one target from each species was found to be suitable for molecular diagnosis of malaria with some advantages over existing molecular methods. The promise of using genome sequence data to develop sensitive, genus- or species-specific diagnostic methods for other pathogens of public health interest is strong. This undertaking together with what we envision as the future of malaria diagnosis in the 'omic' era is discussed.

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