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August 3rd, 2009
06:35 PM ET

'The origin of malignant malaria'

Anderson with Dr. Nathan Wolfe, a virus hunter who has published new research about the origins of Malaria.
Anderson with Dr. Nathan Wolfe, a virus hunter who has published new research about the origins of Malaria.

Program Note: Posted below is the latest article from Dr. Nathan Wolfe, a virus hunter who believes he has discovered how humans first contracted Malaria. One of the world's deadliest diseases, Malaria claims the lives of more than 1 million people a year, most of whom are children. Dr. Sanjay Gupta will have a full report on the study and Dr. Wolfe will join us on AC360° tonight at 10p ET.

Dr. Nathan D. Wolfe et al.
Global Viral Forecasting Initiative

The distinguished anthropologist Frank B. Livingstone conjectured that P. falciparum may have been acquired by a transfer to humans of a chimpanzee parasite. The plausibility of Livingstone’s hypothesis was based on the supposition that, as humans developed increasingly larger agricultural societies, they encroached upon the dwindling forest habitats of species such as the chimpanzee, and so there may have been repeated opportunities for horizontal transfer.

Today, human encroachment into the last forest habitats has further extended, leading to a higher risk of transfer of new pathogens, including new malaria parasites. Our results confirm Livingstone’s conjecture and, moreover, suggest that the world’s extant populations of P. falciparum derive from a single transfer of P. reichenowi from chimpanzees to humans.

How and when did the host transfer occur? A hypothesis proposed in the past was that the ancestors of P. falciparum would have been transferred from another host to humans as our Neolithic ancestors transitioned from hunter-gatherers to agriculturalists some 10,000 years ago. This proposal was based on anthropological information about the history of our species, but also on the estimated age of hemoglobin mutants that render humans resistant to malaria infection.

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soundoff (9 Responses)
  1. Richard J Gilmour-Smith M.D.

    I was interested to see this item on CNN today. I am not sure how the postulated epidemiology of this protozoan infection will help find a vaccine though. (Malaria is not caused by a virus)

    The female anchor of this program seemed to be blissfully unaware that there are already tests going ahead on a vaccine.

    I would suggest that she contact the Walter & Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne, Australia for further information on this.

    August 4, 2009 at 2:08 am |
  2. Aline Ikuzwe

    Thanks to everyone at AC 360 who put together this segment of the show about one of the worlds deadliest diseases, malaria. My father died of malaria when I was 15. I am originally from Rwanda,Africa. I moved here 8 years ago with my family.I am thankful that i do not have to worry about getting malaria in America. God Bless Anderson Cooper and the staff.

    August 4, 2009 at 12:02 am |
  3. Joy

    Hello,

    I enjoyed the coverage on malaria. My husband is a native African, and my son has Thalasemia minor. His nephew also has cicle cell trait. Please tell me if these two blood disorders is a way to guard those who have it against malaria?

    Thanks in advance for your reply,

    Sincerely,

    Mom

    August 3, 2009 at 11:55 pm |
  4. Kolenekeo C. Darwin Kaeo

    My Comment to Dr. Nathan Wolfe,
    My fiancee` who's residing in Lagos, Nigeria has contracted Malaria though, she's completing the task of her families estate as, we're trying to also get our financial cash flow wired to my Bank of America account. In the meantime, she constracts Malaria and, is in a private hospital in Lagos, they're asking for the world unlike here in the U.S. they want cash upfront to administer medicine and, though I've given them more than enough (well over $1000.00) they insist of having more funds wired to them.
    How can I get the U.S. Embassies help to assist my fiancee` ? Please let me know on what I should do for, I feel useless and, am missing her so badly.
    Please advise.
    Keo
    206-227-8763

    August 3, 2009 at 11:51 pm |
  5. Herm

    There has been alot of discussion about the use of artemisinin and other plant compounds in the treatment of Malaria. The success rate of these Chinese remedies seems to be good. Is there anything viable behind these efforts?

    August 3, 2009 at 11:13 pm |
  6. Sabrina In Los Angeles

    This is also how the Native Americans were introduced to European diseases as well. T

    heir territory was encroached upon and the new contact to unexposed diseases killed them in large numbers because they didn't have immunity.

    August 3, 2009 at 11:12 pm |
  7. victor

    coming from africa myself, i beg to differ that the origin of malaria is from chimpanzee. this is a lie and that propanganda must stop, i do not know what ulterior motives are behind this so called findings but i do know that it is finding not correct. a particular brand of mosquitos give malaria; the mosquito that i know gave me malaria have never in their short life span ever seen a chimpanzee so i do not know where they are coming from that bogus story.

    August 3, 2009 at 10:53 pm |
  8. Cesar

    Hello:
    I was watching your program and came to my mind that
    primates are reservoirs for Malaria.
    This is not new because in Colombia ,South America:
    Dr Patarroyo has a model for Malaria in Aotus trivirgatus,
    that He reproduces the same symptomsof malaria in this
    monkeys and He is testing a Malaria Vaccine.
    So to me is not new that Chimpances carry the infection
    and may transmit it toHumans.

    Thanks

    Dr Albarracin

    August 3, 2009 at 10:48 pm |
  9. victor

    coming from africa myself, i beg to differ that the origin of malaria is chimpanzee. this is a lie and that propanganda must, i do know what ulterior motives are behind this so called finding but i know that it is not correct. a brand of mosquitos give malaria; the mosquito that i know give malaria have never in their short life time ever seen a chimpanzee so i do not know coming from that bogus story.

    August 3, 2009 at 10:48 pm |