A BRIEF HISTORY OF MALARIA RESEARCH
Genetic studies suggest that the Plasmodium population emerged from Africa, spreading with human migration out of Africa about 40.000-130.000 years ago and remaining relatively localized until about 6000 years ago, when an expansion took place in conjunction with the transition to an agricultural society and expansion of mankind.
Early reports of an epidemic recurring fever which might resemble Malaria are known from ancient Chinese, Mesopotamian, Greek, Roman, Assyrian and Indian sources, some possibly dating back up to 2700 BCE.
With the beginning of the microbiological era of research, represented by scientists like Louis Pasteur and Robert Koch, important steps in the comprehension of Malaria took place. In 1880 the French army physician Charles Louis Alphonse Laveran discovered Protozoans, which he named Oscillaria malariae, in Erythrocytes examining the blood-smear of patients infected with Malaria. He showed they were the cause of the infection and also noted their disappearance following treatment with Quinine. In 1907 he was awarded the Nobel prize in medicine for his discovery.
A few years later, in 1897, the british-indian physician Ronald Ross confirmed a hypothesis of Patrick Manson that Mosquitoes acted as vectors and determined the Plasmodium reproduction cycle in infected birds for which he was awarded the Nobel prize for medicine in 1902. His discoveries were confirmed for human Malaria by the Italians Grassi and Bignami in 1898, transmitting the infection to uninfected volunteers by Mosquitoes. About 50 years later, the liver stages of infection were shown by Henry Shortt and Cyril Garnham in 1948 and finally Wojciech Krotoski demonstrated the dormant states of Hypnozoites in 1982.
The age of in-vitro research began in 1976, when Jensen and Trager maintained P. falciparum in continuous culture in human erythrocytes, liberating researches from the dependence of animal and human resources in the search for effective treatment. With the genome of several Plasmodium species determined, another stage in Malaria research is on its way.
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Last revision date: 18.06.2014