We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is Malaria Resistance?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

The term “malaria resistance” can be used to refer to two different concepts, both related to malaria. The first is natural resistance to the parasites that cause malaria, observed in some human populations. The second is the development of drug resistance in Plasmodium parasites, the causative agents behind malaria, that makes malaria hard to treat because normally effective medications become useless. Both concepts are of considerable interest to medical researchers and scientists, as well as geneticists.

Malaria resistance in human populations is a very interesting example of how the human genome can be affected by changes in the natural environment. As human populations began engaging in agriculture, changing the landscape to create conditions hospitable to the Anopheles mosquitoes that carry malaria, genetic traits that conferred some resistance to malaria infection began to arise. Selection for these traits began to occur, as people with the traits survived malaria infections, while people without them did not.

Using DNA analysis, researchers have been able to pinpoint the era when malaria resistance began to appear in human populations. It can also be traced to specific regions, showing that resistance evolved specifically in the “malaria belt,” rather than occurring spontaneously. However, malaria resistance came at a cost. The evolutionary traits that conferred resistance could also turn deadly, as seen with conditions like thalassemia anemia and sickle cell anemia. While having these traits limits the activities of Plasmodium in the body and creates malaria resistance, if people inherit the wrong combination of traits, they can experience blood disorders.

In Plasmodium populations, resistance to antimalarial drugs is a global problem. Like other microorganisms, these parasites are highly adaptable, so they can adjust to changes in conditions and take advantage of new ecological niches. When the organisms are exposed to antimalarial drugs, some inevitably have some natural resistance that allows them to survive, and over time, resistant organisms breed with other resistant organisms, creating offspring that have more resistance.

Resistance to antimalarial drugs is a concern among pharmaceutical companies and aid organizations working in regions where malaria is widespread. It is necessary to develop new classes of drugs to treat malaria, with the goal of staying ahead of evolution with drugs that can target organisms that tolerate conventional classes of antimalarials. Part of the problem is that research is extremely expensive and some pharmaceutical companies are reluctant to engage in it because the payoffs for antimalarials tend to be lower than those for medications that can be sold in the developed world.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGeek researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

Learn more
WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.