News / Health

Researchers Confirm Presence of Malaria Parasite in Bone Marrow

FILE - An aedes aegypti mosquito on human skin.
FILE - An aedes aegypti mosquito on human skin.
Jessica Berman

Researchers say they have evidence the malaria parasite lurks in bone marrow, a spongy tissue inside bones where blood cells are produced. The discovery offers hope that new treatments can be found to fight the disease, which kills an estimated one million people each year.

The malaria parasite goes through a number of stages in its life cycle. After an infected mosquito bites someone, parasitic spores travel to the liver where they grow and divide. Then they enter the blood stream and multiply, causing the familiar symptoms of malaria - high fever, chills, sweats, fatigue, nausea and vomiting.

But there appears to be another place where immature malaria spores gather and hide - bone marrow. And once there, they can evade the body's defenses as they develop.

For about 100 years, researchers have suspected a small amount of the pathogen, called Plasmodium falciparum, burrows deep inside bones.  

“It was assumed that all of the blood stages of the parasite are somehow sticking to the blood vessels.  But these guys are not.  They are outside of the blood vessels.  They are in the hematopoietic system where blood is formed.  So drugs have to get there first," said Matt Marti, who specializes in malaria transmission at Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, Massachusetts.

But drugs have a hard time penetrating to the bone marrow, says Marti, which may explain why malaria - out of easy reach of the immune system - is difficult to treat.

Investigators discovered the new reservoir of P. falciparum by studying the bone marrow of people who died of malaria.
 
Marti says the findings may help scientists find ways to target those reservoirs during a critical stage of the parasite's life cycle.

“So, it will be important to figure out whether current anti-malarial therapies are efficiently targeting that site.  And it will be important for new drugs to be tested - whether they can target that site efficiently," he said.

Researchers report on the role of bone marrow in malaria infection in Science Translational Medicine.  

You May Like

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid