Plasmodium falciparum...
the parasite that never gives up


Family Tree

The cure without a cure...Treatments & Resistance

While understanding the genome of Plasmodium offers a huge benefit, so much is still unknown. For those suffering from malaria, knowing a genome is of little importance without a cure (Gardner).

Until a vaccine and effective treatments are found, the best option will continue to be prevention.


Prevention methods:

* Spraying infected areas with DDT to kill the mosquito carriers.
* Blocking Anopheles larvae from hatching by covering marshes with paraffin.
* Draining still bodies of water that encourage mosquito habitation and reproduction.
* Using nets to control mosquitoes.
Image found at:
Source: Wehi

Prevention methods do carry some risk. Chemicals such as DDT and those used to coat the mosquito nets can cause unknown long-term effects on humans. There is much debate regarding the pros and cons of chemical usage (Smith).



Treatments available focus on reliving the symptoms, more than the disease. Often, there are two main results that can occur with the onset of malaria - death or a natural immune response that may build up. If an individual does develop the natural immune response, they will continue to house merozoites of the falciparum in their liver.

Some pharmaceuticals are available that work by attacking the parasite at as specific point of the life cycle. Unfortunately, many are becoming of no use due to increased resistance.

Source: Huestis

Resistance: Image found at:

The rate at which P. falciparum becomes resistant is still a very controversial subject, with many studies constantly being carried out. However, it seems resistance follows a normal Medelian pattern (Talisuna).

Previous drugs used to treat Malaria include quinolines, one of which is  chloroquine. Simply, these drugs worked by inhibiting the digestive vacuole of the parasite. Since quinolines were initial employed, P. falciparum has adapted to counteract the drugs negative affects (Francis).

A specific gene has been determined to be connected to chloriquine resistance. The rate at which the resistance spreads in areas of high and low Malaria frequency is often disputed. One such study determined that areas of low transmission most likely incurred higher numbers of resistance due to increased use of drugs for treatment (Talisuna).

The large number of enzymes and proteins, along with the complex life cycle of the parasite, offers  many options for adaptations to vaccines.