Washington: The findings of a new study have challenged the widely-accepted theory that Plasmodium falciparum, which causes the most lethal form of malaria, is the only malaria parasite capable of driving genome evolution in humans.Professor Ivo Mueller from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute and Barcelona Centre for International Health Research (CRESIB) led the study, with colleagues from the Papua New Guinea Institute of Medical Research, Centre of Global Health and Diseases, US, and the University of Western Australia.Malaria is a devastating parasitic disease that kills up to one million people a year. It is a major cause of poverty and a barrier to economic development. Approximately half of the world`s population is at risk of malaria infection.“Humans and malaria parasites have been co-evolving for thousands of years,” Professor Mueller said.“Malaria has been a major force in the evolution of the human genome, with gene mutations that provide humans with some protection against the disease being preserved through natural selection because they aid in survival,” he said.Professor Mueller said that the study has challenged the perception that P. falciparum malaria is the only malaria species that affects human genome evolution.“It has long been assumed that Plasmodium falciparum, the species that causes the most severe disease and most deaths from malaria, is the most important driver of this gene selection in humans,” Mueller said.
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