Malaria Evolution in South Asia (South Asia ICEMR)
To understand the genetic plasticity (or adaptability) of malaria parasites in the region and its relationship to drug resistance, virulence, transmission and human immunity.
- to investigate the extent to which drug use and drug resistance shape the evolution of malaria parasites in India,
- to study the extent to which vector distribution and characteristics effect transmission of drug resistance traits, and
- to study how parasites’ response to immunity triggers novel interactions with host cells and leads to severe disease.
Malaria is a devastating human disease, especially amongst the most vulnerable sub-populations of the world. It is important to understand how malaria parasites will respond to global elimination efforts. The emergence of drug resistance, dissemination of these traits to broader localities, and evolution of parasites into forms that may lead to greater pathology are of particular interest. The dominant human malaria parasite, P. falciparum, has been studied in Africa and SE Asia, but much remains to be learned about its patterns in South Asia. The other major human malaria parasite, P. vivax, continues to cause morbidity and mortality. However, phenotypic dissection of P. vivax traits and formal demonstration of variations between P. vivax isolates is restricted by our limited ability to culture them.