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US and Chinese Scientists Make Malaria Gene Map

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WASHINGTON--Two separate research efforts this month announced advances in malaria gene mapping. Scientists at the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and at the Guangxi Institute of Parasitic Disease Control in China announced that they have created the first high-resolution genetic map of Plasmodium falciparum, the most deadly malaria parasite. Earlier this month, scientists at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, reported that they had constructed, with colleagues from New York University, an optical map of the genome. The product is a physical map that orders snipped DNA fragments of chromosomes.

NIAID suggested that its map, in conjunction with the map generated by the Wisconsin group, would provide complementary information to genome sequencers.

Anthony Fauci, director of NIAID, said his team’s map "provides the scaffolding to accelerate efforts to sequence the entire genome of one of our greatest infectious foes." He said the map would serve as a "bridge between the genomic information and the biology of the parasite." For example, he said, the map can help locate genes important to drug resistance and disease severity. The NIAID-generated map is available online through the US National Center for Biotechnology Information.

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