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

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday because of its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal 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.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid