Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

How Mosquitoes Could Teach Us A Trick In The Fight Against Malaria

Date:
March 13, 2009
Source:
Imperial College London
Summary:
The means by which most deadly malaria parasites are detected and killed by the mosquitoes that carry them is revealed for the first time in research published in Science. The discovery could help researchers find a way to block transmission of the disease from mosquitoes to humans.

The means by which most deadly malaria parasites are detected and killed by the mosquitoes that carry them is revealed for the first time in research published March 5 in Science Express. The discovery could help researchers find a way to block transmission of the disease from mosquitoes to humans.

Related Articles


Mosquitoes become infected with malaria when they feed on the blood of an infected person. Young malaria parasites then grow and develop inside the mosquito for two weeks. New human infections occur when these parasites are 'injected' with the insect's saliva during the mosquito's next blood meal.

However, most of the malaria parasites are killed by the mosquito's immune system as soon as they enter the insect's bloodstream, with only one or two slipping through the net and going on to divide, multiply, and infect people.

The new study shows exactly how the mosquito's immune system kicks in to kill 80 - 90 percent of the parasites. The researchers discovered that the parasites are detected by a pair of proteins called LRIM1 and APL1C which belong to the mosquito's infection surveillance system. These two 'intruder detection' proteins then activate a third protein in the mosquito's blood called TEP1, which seeks out the parasitic invader, binds to its surface and orchestrates its destruction by punching holes in its cell membrane.

The Imperial College London team behind the new discovery say this knowledge could be used to develop new genetic or chemical techniques to improve on the mosquito's natural detection success rate, so that 100 percent of the parasites can be killed inside the mosquito, preventing transmission of the disease from insects to people.

Dr George Christophides from Imperial's Department of Life Sciences comments: "Mosquitoes are known as the 'bad guys' that spread malaria, but these insects are unwilling carriers of the disease, whose immune systems try to fight it, just like ours do. Now that we know exactly how their immune system attacks malaria parasites, we need to work out how a small number of parasites manage to evade detection by this system. Only a few manage to get past the mosquito's defences, but that's all that's needed for the disease to be transmitted to humans.

"If we can figure out how some parasites manage to sneak through undetected, hopefully we can find a way to bolster the mosquito's defences to catch them all."

The research, which was funded by the Wellcome Trust, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, was carried out in the laboratory using a model parasite which causes malaria in rodents.

Half the global population are at risk of contracting malaria and up to half a billion new infections are recorded every year. Between one and three million people die from malaria every year - the majority of fatalities are children living in sub-Saharan Africa.

Apart from malaria, mosquitoes also spread other serious infectious diseases such as dengue and yellow fever, filariasis and various encephalitides. Dr Christophides and his colleagues at Imperial also discovered that LRIM1 and APL1C belong to a family of infection detection proteins that appear to be specific to mosquitoes. The researchers believe that proteins in this family may play a role in defence against these other infections too, and are currently investigating how these proteins function during mosquito infection with dangerous human pathogens.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Imperial College London. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Michael Povelones, Robert M. Waterhouse, Fotis C. Kafatos & George K. Christophides. Leucine-rich repeat protein complex activates mosquito complement in defense against Plasmodium parasites. Science, March 6, 2009

Cite This Page:

Imperial College London. "How Mosquitoes Could Teach Us A Trick In The Fight Against Malaria." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 March 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090305141641.htm>.
Imperial College London. (2009, March 13). How Mosquitoes Could Teach Us A Trick In The Fight Against Malaria. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090305141641.htm
Imperial College London. "How Mosquitoes Could Teach Us A Trick In The Fight Against Malaria." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090305141641.htm (accessed October 25, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

IKEA Desk Converts From Standing to Sitting With One Button

IKEA Desk Converts From Standing to Sitting With One Button

Buzz60 (Oct. 24, 2014) IKEA is out with a new convertible desk that can convert from a sitting desk to a standing one with just the push of a button. Jen Markham explains. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Protective Suits Being Made in China

Ebola Protective Suits Being Made in China

AFP (Oct. 24, 2014) A factory in China is busy making Ebola protective suits for healthcare workers and others fighting the spread of the virus. Duration: 00:38 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
WHO: Millions of Ebola Vaccine Doses by 2015

WHO: Millions of Ebola Vaccine Doses by 2015

AP (Oct. 24, 2014) The World Health Organization said on Friday that millions of doses of two experimental Ebola vaccines could be ready for use in 2015 and five more experimental vaccines would start being tested in March. (Oct. 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Doctor in NYC Quarantined With Ebola

Doctor in NYC Quarantined With Ebola

AP (Oct. 24, 2014) An emergency room doctor who recently returned to the city after treating Ebola patients in West Africa has tested positive for the virus. He's quarantined in a hospital. (Oct. 24) Video provided by AP
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

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