Science Without Borders

Geneticist Dyann Wirth:

Understanding the DNA of Parasites

Dyann Wirth Probes Parasites

Geneticist Wirth wants to wipe out malaria by overcoming a parasite's drug resistance.



How do Plasmodia survive antimalarial medicines?

Answer: Genetic adaptation

DNA: altered over time by adaptation to many events

Deadly Differences

How can scientists pinpoint what makes Plasmodium falciparum so deadly?

Exploring Parasite Secrets

Scientists study genetic variation:

polymorphism (SNP)

Why do scientists study more than one genome?

What is the name for these DNA patterns?

Give an example of a SNP.

Global Team Science

Exploration begins with patient volunteers from malaria clinics on 3 continents

Plasmodia Parasites in Human Blood

Malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum growing inside human red blood cells

Wirth's Experiments

Wirth's method identifies

The Human Touch

Human activity can spread drug resistance

How do humans help mosquitoes spread resistance across extremely wide geographic areas?

What human-made environments make great breeding sites for mosquito larvae?

The MIDAS Touch

Model of Infectious Disease Agent Study

Research Applications

How might knowledge that Wirth and her team have gained about Plasmodium DNA be used to develop an early warning system for malaria drug resistance?