Genomics has been used to decode the blueprint of Plasmodium falciparum - a strain of malaria most resistant to drugs that causes the most deaths around the world, by an international group of researchers.
According to researchers, the discovery could lead to advanced pharmaceuticals to fight the disease and prevent drug resistance.
"Combating malaria resistance is nothing short of an arms race," said lead author Dr. Philip Awadalla, a paediatrics professor at the Universite de Montreal, a scientist at the Sainte-Justine University Hospital Research Center and scientific director of CARTaGENE.
"As the malaria pathogen evolves, researchers must evolve with it to find ways to counter the disease," he added.
Awadalla and colleagues decoded 200 malaria samples from Asia, Africa, Central America, South America and Papua New Guinea.
Their goal was to identify how Plasmodium falciparum strains were becoming resistant to the eight anti-malaria drugs currently available.
As part of their genomic mapping, the researchers found that Plasmodium falciparum recombined fastest in Africa.
Awadalla compares malaria genomes to human genomes.
In malaria, however, variation among some genetic material is so high and evolves so rapidly that the parasite can develop drug resistance.
Awadalla said that new clues garnered by this study "will allow pharmaceutical companies to create treatments that target the evolving malaria genome."
The study has been published in Nature Genetics.