Last Updated: 06/11/2023

Using whole genome sequencing to reveal malaria parasite genetic diversity and drug resistance in Vietnam

Objectives

To characterise the genetic diversity and the molecular basis of drug resistance of malaria parasites in Viet Nam using whole genome sequencing (WGS).

Principal Investigators / Focal Persons

Taane Gregory Clark

Rationale and Abstract

Malaria, caused by Plasmodium parasites, remains a barrier to social and economic development in resource poor areas of Viet Nam. Between 2012 and 2016, Viet Nam achieved a 52% reduction in malaria cases to ~4,200 (P. falciparum 56%, P. vivax 42%). The campaign against malaria by the Vietnamese Government is now being refocused from control to elimination by year 2030. However, this campaign is challenged by the threat of parasites, which are resistant to existing frontline artemisinin combination treatments and spreading in the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS); five Vietnamese provinces have been identified to harbour these drug-resistant parasites. Compared to P. falciparum, very little is known about drug resistance in Pv, but is driven by genetic mutations in the parasite genomes. New molecular tools to characterise circulating parasites are warranted. By examining the genomic variation from both Pf and Pv sourced from 5 malaria endemic provinces, we will be able to detect crucial mutations in drug resistance genes (e.g. PfKelch, PfPlasmepsin2, Pfmdr1 and related genes in Pv), and potentially identify new loci by using population genetic approaches to uncover “selective sweeps”. The genomic variation will allow an assessment of differences in population structure across time, between the geographical areas, and within the GMS context and beyond. Comparative Pf and Pv species analysis will also be performed to highlight any differential effects of control practice. As part of this application, it is also proposed to build capacity in Viet Nam in the area of malaria genomics and its applications through on-site training and workshops, as well as exchange of researchers between the UK and Viet Nam. These activities will assist Vietnamese scientists to undertake genomics research studies in the future.

Date

Jan 2020 — Mar 2023

Total Project Funding

$577,315

Funding Details
Medical Research Council (MRC)

Grant ID: MR/R026297/1
450,223 GBP
Project Site

United Kingdom
Vietnam

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