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Saturday, 12 July 2014 07:49




Scientists have found a unique antibody that dealt a deadly blow to the malaria parasite at a key stage in its life-cycle. It trapped the tiny organism in red blood cells, preventing it from bursting out and spreading throughout the body.

PfSEA-1 was discovered by starting with naturally occurring protective human immune responses. Using molecular gymnastics parasite proteins were identified that are only recognized by antibodies in children who were resistant to malaria but not by antibodies in susceptible children. PfSEA-1 is essential to allow the parasite to escape from one infected red blood cell and infect additional blood cells. This cycle of expansion in red blood cells is critical for parasite survival and is the key process that leads to morbidity and mortality in humans. Using molecular techniques the amount of PfSEA-1 is decreased that parasites could produce a significant growth defect in these altered parasites had been demonstrated. More importantly, antibodies to PfSEAs prevent the parasites from escaping from red blood cells, presumably by interfering with the function of PfSEA-1.