Genetic code of the monkey malaria parasite Plasmodium cynomolgi deciphered

18 August 2017

BPRC - 1. Genetic code of the monkey malaria parasite Plasmodium cynomolgi deciphered

Plasmodium cynomolgi (P. cynomolgi) is closely related to the people malaria parasite Plasmodium vivax. This parasite causes each year millions of serious illnesses in endemic areas.

Vivax malaria is difficult to treat because the parasite develops into dormant stages in the liver which may cause an infection after prolonged periods of time. Currently there is only one licensed drug available against this type of malaria. This drug can often not be used due to serious side effects. That´s why we are looking for new drugs to target this dormant parasite stage.

Only specific types of human and monkey malaria parasites develop into these dormant parasite stages. One of the few ways to study this type of malaria is therefore by using the monkey malaria parasite P. cynomolgi. For this research, it is essential to gain more understanding of the parasite. 

In collaboration with an English research group, BPRC scientists have mapped the genetic code of P. cynomolgi into great detail. This work, described in the online journal Wellcome Open Research (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5500898/), not only provides new insights into the composition of this parasite but is also very useful for the research that uses this parasite as a model for the human malaria P. vivax.