Friday, September 30, 2016

Blood Samples Connected to Malaria's Migration

Spain contained many accounts of malaria in 1925, and Dr. Canicio was specifically interested in this outbreak. He worked with patients and extracted some of their blood, leaving behind samples.  These samples were key to determining the number of strains throughout Europe and how they got there in the first place. 
The samples were recently given to Dr. Lalueza-Fox where he worked specifically with them.  His goal was to gain more factual knowledge about malaria and the strains that were prominent around Europe at that time.  He was able to retrieve genomic data of malaria by reversing a commonly used method.  Dr. Lalueza-Fox searched for DNA in the "leftovers" of the sample and emerged with the parasites that cause malaria.  From his findings, he was able to construct the entire genome of the strain P. falciparum and most of the genome of P. vivax.  His findings were remarkable.  From just a few drops of blood taken about fifty years ago, an entire genome was reconstructed. 

P. vivax, which was found in blood samples from Spain, is found today in areas including Asia, Middle East, South America, Central America, and sections of Africa.  P. falciparum is only found in India.  With this information, conclusions can be made that malaria follows the path of humans.  With people traveling from India to Europe to the Americas, malaria has been consistently with us.

This information builds curiosity about what else can be traced along with the migration of humans. There is no doubt that human movement has caused a transportation and introduction of different species to new areas.  This discovery about malaria has just been made, so what does the future hold?   

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