SINGAPORE, Feb. 9 (UPI) -- Scientists at Singapore's Nanyang Technological University say they have completed the world's first in-depth study of the malaria parasite genome.
The researchers at the university's School of Biological Sciences said their findings could lead to the development of more potent drugs or even a vaccine for malaria, which is transmitted to humans by infected mosquitoes and kills up to three million people each year.
Assistant Professor Zbynek Bozdech, who led the study, said his team has become the first to successfully use transcriptional profiling to uncover previously unknown gene expression patterns in malaria.
They said transcriptional profiling is the measurement of the activity of thousands of genes at once, to create a global picture of cellular function. Their findings, the scientists said, have yielded critical information about how the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum responds to existing compounds with curative potential.
"Drawing on our findings, pharmaceutical companies could explore ways to design a drug that targets the weakest link," said Bozdech. "We have predicted all the genes that could be used for a vaccine as well."
The study was reported in the January edition of the journal Nature Biotechnology.