Professor Abdoulaye Djimdé, Director of PDNA: “We have shown that the genetic composition of parasites is changing”

Ibrahima DIA

Friday, August 23, 2019, Pr. Abdoulaye Djimdé intervened on the airwaves of RFI to comment on an article published in the science journal of which he is co-author. The authors of the study “showed that the genetic composition of parasites is changing” on the African continent. In his intervention, the professor recommends taking into account these differences when developing new drugs.

Malaria in Africa: how to prevent drug resistance?

Will the resistance to malaria drugs spread to Africa? This is the question posed by African scientists, grouped for the first time in a network. The Plasmodium Diversity Network Africa (PNDA) published Thursday, August 22 an article in the prestigious American newspaper Science. The challenge of this research is to understand the strains of specifically African malaria.
Since 2013, 15 African scientists in 15 countries of the continent have been studying the genetics of the parasites that cause malaria. Until now, African parasites were considered uniform, compared by Western researchers with those in Asia or Latin America.

However, according to the first network research of Plasmodium Diversity Network Africa (PDNA), their genetics are beautiful and distinct from Cape Verde to Ethiopia, from South Africa to Côte d’Ivoire. Far from being harmless, this advance is essential because it will better prevent resistance to anti-malarial drugs.

Changing genetic composition

“We have shown that the genetic composition of parasites is changing,” says Professor Abdoulaye Djimdé, director of PDNA, the network of African researchers who wrote the article in the journal Science. This must be taken into account when developing new drugs, but also when developing new vaccines against malaria and when developing new diagnostic tools. “

This resistance to treatment made its appearance in 2008 in Cambodia and is still spreading in Asia. But according to African biologists, first-fruits could lead to drug resistance also in Africa. They observed genetic changes in parasites in Ghana and Malawi.

92% of malaria cases in Africa in 2017

“Very often,” continues Professor Abdoulaye Djimdé, “we see that vaccines developed give good results in the laboratory. But when we arrive on the ground, we are disappointed. And this disappointment is mainly due to the fact that we have not taken enough into account the specificities of parasites found on the ground. “

It must be remembered that malaria remains a major public health problem. In 2017, 92% of cases and 93% of deaths from this disease occurred on the African continent, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). More edifying, half of the world’s cases were recorded in five countries, including four African states: Nigeria (25%), Democratic Republic of Congo (11%), Mozambique (5%), India (4%) and Uganda (4%), according to the WHO.

Here is the complete bibliographic reference of the article :

Amambua-Ngwa A, Amenga-Etego L, Kamau E, Amato R, Ghansah A, Golassa L, Randrianarivelojosia M, Ishengoma D, Apinjoh T, Maïga-Ascofaré O, Andagalu B, Yavo W, Bouyou-Akotet M, Kolapo O, Mane K, Worwui A, Jeffries D, Simpson V, D’Alessandro U, Kwiatkowski D, Djimde AA. Major subpopulations of <i>Plasmodium falciparum</i> in sub-Saharan Africa. Science. 2019 Aug 23;365(6455):813-816. doi: 10.1126/science.aav5427. PubMed PMID: 31439796.

The full text of the article :

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