Once the samples are collected, they are shipped back to the Sanger Institute for genomic testing. Parasite and mosquito DNA is extracted, sequenced and analysed.
The information in the DNA could help inform decisions about which insecticides, antimalarial drugs and other control measures should be used, as well as how and where to use them. The knowledge is a key part in the battle against the rapidly evolving parasites.
For example, genomic information can identify transmission hotspots, where the parasite is rapidly moving from host to host. This can help focus control efforts in the right place. Genomic analysis can also identify drug and insecticide resistance – helping public health officials decide which treatments to use in any particular area. It can monitor the effects of a control measure, for example to see if parasites are becoming resistant to an antimalarial drug that has been used. The data can also show if parasites are migrating in from outside the region.