LAST_UPDATESat, 26 May 2018 10pm

Study Says Malaria Deaths Linked To Where People Live

SYDNEY - Researchers say people have formed different defences against malaria depending on what part of the world they live in, Xinhua news agency reports quoting a study.

The study, involving some 12,000 people and conducted over 10 years across 11 countries, looked for specific mutations in genes that result in resistance against malaria.

Malaria still kills between 300,000 and 500,000 people globally each year.

Dr Ivo Mueller, laboratory head at Melbourne-based Walter and Eliza Hall Institute who is part of an international team, said Monday that Africa was the world's malaria hot spot with parts of Papua New Guinea and Indonesia being other trouble areas.

Mueller said the study showed there was a whole set of other mutations that protects people from malaria in some countries not found in African populations.

"There is a very complicated interplay between malaria and human populations, between the parasite and the human genome," he told Xinhua.

Mueller's research took him to Papua New Guinea, where he tested locals but could not find the mutations that were prevalent in Africa.

"They were not found in Papua New Guinea because people there never acquired these mutations," he said.

Mueller said Africa was still a malaria danger zone because of the high level of transmission impacting up to 80 percent of the population and poor health services.

"The better researchers understand the genome interactions between parasites and hosts, the better they can understand the disease which may lead to better medicines and vaccines," he said.