The Molecular Approaches to Malaria 2004 meeting provided an opportunity to see the impressive progress in all research fields and in the four years since the previous Molecular Approaches to Malaria meeting, when much of the Plasmodium falciparum genome sequence was already available. Study of the part of the Plasmodium life cycle associated with transmission through the vector, which begins with the commitment of blood-stage forms to sexual development, has been especially fruitful. This success is a result of several reasons including: (i) the availability of the genome sequence; (ii) the availability of good animal models that allow parasite culture and facile in vivo studies of many of the life cycle stages involved in transmission; (iii) the availability of genetic manipulation technologies for the animal models of malaria, as well as P. falciparum; and (iv) the ability to study lethal gene knockouts at this stage of the life cycle.
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