Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Biomarkers In Blood Could Aid Diagnosis Of Crippling, Often Fatal Forms Of Malaria

Date:
December 17, 2008
Source:
Program on Life Sciences, Ethics and Policy,McLaughlin-Rotman Centre for Global Health
Summary:
Researchers have identified protein biomarkers that may let doctors detect earlier two crippling malaria variations -- one that develops in the placenta of pregnant women affecting countless unborn children, the other, cerebral malaria, that develops in the brain's blood vessels -- malaria's most deadly form.

Canadian researchers have identified protein biomarkers that shed new light on the development of two severe and debilitating forms of malaria.

The findings may let doctors detect earlier two crippling malaria variations – one that develops in the placenta of pregnant women affecting countless unborn children, the other, cerebral malaria, that develops in the brain's blood vessels – malaria's most deadly form.

The double breakthrough will be described at annual meetings of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA, Dec. 7-11, 2008.

Over-activation of body's natural defences implicated in placental malaria

Tropical disease specialists affiliated with Toronto's McLaughlin-Rotman Centre for Global Health (MRC) say malaria has notoriously stalked pregnant women through the ages.

Many women growing up in areas such as sub-Saharan Africa gradually develop partial immunity to malaria and become relatively impervious to it until their first pregnancy. Often, the expectant mother with placental malaria appears relatively well and the disease is detected only after the child is delivered.

Some 10,000 women die annually from placental malaria, while up to 400,000 develop severe anemia. The disease also causes up to 200,000 infant deaths and countless cases of babies born with low birth weight – a major risk factor for early childhood death.

A decade ago, researchers showed malaria parasites can accumulate in the newly created placenta. But how parasites hiding in the placenta actually result in placental and fetal injury was unclear, says lead researcher and Dr. Kevin Kain, Director of the Sandra A. Rotman Laboratories at the MRC.

Dr. Kain, in collaboration with W. Conrad Liles and colleagues Andrea Conroy, Lena Serghides, Constance Finney, Simon O. Owino, Sanjeev Kumar, D. Channe Gowda, and Julie M. Moore say their work unravels part of this mystery.

They found that women with placental malaria carry a biomarker in their blood -- a protein called C5a, which is an important part of the body's innate defence against infections but one that needs to be carefully controlled.

When overactived by malaria infection, C5a appears to contribute to an excessive inflammatory response and dysrupts normal blood vessel growth in the placenta, raising the risk of spontaneous abortions or low birth weight infants.

Tests on pregnant women in Kenya revealed that those with placental malaria had elevated levels of C5a in their blood compared to expectant mothers without the disease. The discovery may help identify placental malaria carriers early enough to potentially prevent tragic consequences through better targeted treatment strategies.

"Children born with low birth weight from placental malaria have several strikes against them before they've drawn a breath," says Dr. Kain, who is also Director of the Center for Travel and Tropical Medicine at Toronto General Hospital. "Any additional illness that comes along in early childhood is more likely to kill them."

"A test that helps detect placental malaria means women can be treated earlier pregnancy, reducing the risk of death or anemia for them, and perhaps saving their babies from malformation or miscarriage."

Protein "biomarker" linked to cerebral malaria, predicts survival

Meanwhile, Drs. Kain and Liles, with colleagues Fiona E. Lovegrove, Erin I. Lafferty, Nimerta Rajwans, and Michael Hawkes, together with collaborators from Thailand, Noppadon Tangpukdee Srivicha Krudsood, Sornchai Looareesuwan, and Uganda, Robert O. Opoka and Chandy C. John, will report in New Orleans on a similar breakthrough: biomarkers that reveal potential victims of cerebral malaria, the disease's most fatal form.

Cerebral malaria is a scourge of people with little developed immunity, affecting particularly African children under five years old and other non-immune adults and travellers to developing countries. It kills 10 to 40% of its victims.

Some 2 to 5% of children with malaria develop the cerebral form. Millions of invading parasites damage the blood vessels of the brain resulting in coma and frequently death. Surprisingly, those who survive it emerge relatively intact neurologically.

Blood tests on patients with cerebral malaria were compared with samples from patients with uncomplicated malaria and from healthy test control subjects.

Cerebral malaria patients were found to have abnormal levels of proteins that regulate the activation of blood vessels known as angiopoietins. Angiopoietin-1 (ANG-1) and angiopoietin-2 (ANG-2) must be in careful balance to maintain healthly endothelial cells that line blood vessels.

In cerebral malaria, the research showed ANG-1 and ANG-2 were dysregulated, likely contributing to excessive activation of the endothelial cells and parasite obstruction of brain blood vessels, associated with cerebral malaria.

High levels of ANG-2 and low levels of ANG-1 were associated with the severity of disease; the levels recorded on admission to hospital predicted which children would subsequently die.

The accuracy of ANG-1 and ANG-2 levels in identifying cerebral malaria was very high (80 to 100%; in African children and Thai adults respectively).

The finding could help doctors spot at-risk individuals early in the course of the disease, with profound implications for triaging critically ill children in developing countries and effectively allocating scarce health care resources. Furthermore, drugs or agents that block ANG-2 or enhance ANG-1 may have a therapeutic role in preventing or treating cerebral malaria.

Says Dr. Liles: "While there is still much work ahead related to this finding, we believe it could soon help improve priority setting by doctors as they decide which patients need the most intensive anti-malaria therapy and supportive care once symptoms are detected."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Program on Life Sciences, Ethics and Policy,McLaughlin-Rotman Centre for Global Health. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Program on Life Sciences, Ethics and Policy,McLaughlin-Rotman Centre for Global Health. "Biomarkers In Blood Could Aid Diagnosis Of Crippling, Often Fatal Forms Of Malaria." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 December 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081207195909.htm>.
Program on Life Sciences, Ethics and Policy,McLaughlin-Rotman Centre for Global Health. (2008, December 17). Biomarkers In Blood Could Aid Diagnosis Of Crippling, Often Fatal Forms Of Malaria. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081207195909.htm
Program on Life Sciences, Ethics and Policy,McLaughlin-Rotman Centre for Global Health. "Biomarkers In Blood Could Aid Diagnosis Of Crippling, Often Fatal Forms Of Malaria." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081207195909.htm (accessed July 28, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Monday, July 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

AP (July 28, 2014) Classes are being offered nationwide to encourage African Americans to learn about cooking fresh foods based on traditional African cuisine. The program is trying to combat obesity, heart disease and other ailments often linked to diet. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
West Africa Gripped by Deadly Ebola Outbreak

West Africa Gripped by Deadly Ebola Outbreak

AFP (July 28, 2014) The worst-ever outbreak of the deadly Ebola epidemic grips west Africa, killing hundreds. Duration: 00:48 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Trees Could Save More Than 850 Lives Each Year

Trees Could Save More Than 850 Lives Each Year

Newsy (July 27, 2014) A national study conducted by the USDA Forest Service found that trees collectively save more than 850 lives on an annual basis. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Google's Next Frontier: The Human Body

Google's Next Frontier: The Human Body

Newsy (July 27, 2014) Google is collecting genetic and molecular information to paint a picture of the perfectly healthy human. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins