Humans have evolved different defences against malaria depending on where they live, scientists have found.
|Photo: The study found resistance to malaria, transmitted through infected mosquitoes, varies depending on location. (AAP: University of Queensland, file photo)|
A study, conducted over 10 years across 11 countries, looked for specific mutations known as markers in genes that result in resistance against malaria in almost 12,000 people.
Laboratory head at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in Melbourne, Dr Ivo Mueller, said the study found there is a close evolutionary interplay between malaria and human populations.
"It is a complex interaction between the parasite and the human genome," he said.
"Part of this study was done in Papua New Guinea, but most of these mutations that we found are actually not found in Papua New Guinea because people there never acquired these mutations.
"On the other hand we have a whole set of other mutations that protects people from malaria in Papua New Guinea that we do not find in African populations."
Dr Muller said that the increasing ability to look at genome interactions between parasites and hosts at a detailed level will hopefully result in a greater understanding of the disease.
"That will eventually allow us hopefully to develop new medicines and new vaccines and target these key interactions between the human host and the malaria parasite," he said.