London - Bats living in the forests of West Africa may hold clues to developing better antimalarial vaccines after they were discovered to harbour a diverse range of parasites that cause the disease.
The bats pose no risk to humans as the malaria strains they carry are different to the ones that infect humans, according to research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Yet a close study of the animals, which have probably been infected by malaria for millions of years and developed immune systems to cope with the disease, could yield more effective treatments.
Malaria is transmitted from one animal host to another via the bite of a mosquito.
“Understanding the evolution of malaria parasites in bats and other animals - and how they fit into the tree of life - is key to understanding this important human disease,” said Professor Susan Perkins of the American Museum of Natural History in New York. - The Independent