News / Health

Promising Target For Malaria Vaccine Identified

Could pave way for more effective vaccine

British researchers have made a discovery they believe will lead to more effective prevention and treatment of malaria.
British researchers have made a discovery they believe will lead to more effective prevention and treatment of malaria.

Multimedia

Audio
Art Chimes

British researchers have discovered a biochemical key used by the malaria parasite to invade human blood cells. The discovery could pave the way for an effective malaria vaccine.

The Plasmodium malaria parasite has a complex life cycle, and that gives scientists different targets for trying to interrupt its development.

One critical point in that process is when the parasite enters the victim's red blood cells. It does that by interacting with a chemical receptor on the surface of the cell.

Previous research identified several of those receptors, but the problem has been that if one receptor is blocked, the parasite uses a different one. Now, scientists have identified a single blood cell receptor that Plasmodium absolutely needs to enter the blood cell.

Julian Rayner of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Cambridge says the research team used different techniques to prove the key role of the receptor, called basigin.

"And what we discovered essentially is by adding in protein or antibody in increasing amounts, we could block invasion of the red blood cell," Rayner said at a London news conference. "Our colleagues, led by Manoj Duraisingh at Harvard, used a genetic approach to create red blood cells with reduced amounts of basigin on the surface, and again that had a big impact on invasion."

In the process, Rayner says they used more than 15 varieties of the malaria parasite, including some currently circulating in the wild.

"But [basigin] seems to be used by every parasite strain that we've tested to date. And some of the ones that we've tested in this paper were in collaboration with scientists in Senegal. And these are parasites that are really freshly isolated from people's arms, so they haven't been sitting in a culture dish for a long time. These are real parasites as recently exposed to humans."

Other malaria vaccines are in development, but co-author Gavin Wright expressed confidence that one based on this discovery might be more successful.

"We've probably got more data to show that this really is a critical interaction than for any other candidate in the past. So, as a starting point for developing a vaccine, you couldn't hope for better."

The researchers say a vaccine targeting the basigin receptor may be a decade or more away. But they say that unlike vaccines for some other diseases, which are useful only in prevention, a malaria vaccine that targets basigin may also be a useful treatment, blocking the constant re-infection of blood cells that characterizes malaria.

Gavin Wright, Julian Rayner and their colleagues publish their findings in the journal Nature.

You May Like

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike in Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid