Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Naturally-occurring Protection Against Severe Malaria Demonstrated

Date:
August 24, 2009
Source:
Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência (IGC)
Summary:
Researchers in Portugal show that an anti-oxidant drug can protect against the development of deadly forms of malaria. These findings have direct implications for the treatment of this devastating disease, caused by the parasite Plasmodium, and still one of the main causes of death worldwide.

In a study to be published in the next issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), researchers at the Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência, in Portugal, show that an anti-oxidant drug can protect against the development of deadly forms of malaria. These findings have direct implications for the treatment of this devastating disease, caused by the parasite Plasmodium, and still one of the main causes of death worldwide.

The team lead by Miguel Soares had previously shown that, when Plasmodium multiplies inside red blood cells (the cells that transport oxygen from the lungs into tissues) it causes these cells to burst and to release hemoglobin (the protein to which oxygen binds inside red blood cells) into the blood stream. Once outside the red blood cells, hemoglobin itself can release its heme groups (the four iron centres through which oxygen binds to hemoglobin), which leads to the severe symptoms of malaria and eventually to death.

Now, the researchers found that once infected by Plasmodium, mice express high levels of heme-oxygenase-1 (HO-1), an enzyme that degrades heme and thus protects the infected mice from developing severe forms of malaria. Furthermore, an anti-oxidant drug, N-acetylcysteine (NAC), has the same affect as HO-1, when given to Plasmodium-infected mice.

Miguel Soares explains, ‘The antioxidant action of HO-1 is part of the host’s natural defence strategy against the malaria parasite. It affords a potent protective effect against malaria but, astonishingly, does not seem to directly affect the parasite. In some cases the reaction of the host against the parasite can lead to death of the infected host. The protective mechanism afforded by HO-1 allows this host response to kill the parasite without compromising its own survival. This finding suggest that there might be alternative therapeutic approaches to treat malaria, which, unlike the current ones would not aim at killing the parasite directly, but rather at strengthening the health status of the host, so that the host could kill parasite and survive. This type therapeutic approach should provide potent protection against severe forms of malaria and thus save lives without favouring the appearance of resistant strains of Plasmodium.

‘Moreover, one might be able to apply the same strategy to a range of other infectious diseases and impact on the treatment of not only malaria but a variety of other infectious diseases, a line of research we are actively pursuing at the Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência.’

This study was elicited by a Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation ‘Projecto Tranversal’ (Cross-disciplinary Award) in Malaria, and further supported by Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia, Portugal as well as by the European Community, 6th Framework Xenome (LSH-2005-1.2.5-1) and the Gemi Fund (Linde Healthcare).


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência (IGC). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Elsa Seixa, Rafaella Gozzelino, Ângelo Chora, Ana Ferreira, Gabriela Silva, Rasmus Larsen, Sofia Rebelo, Carmen Penido, R. Neal Smith, António Coutinho and Miguel P Soares. Heme Oxygenase-1 affords protection against non-cerebral forms of severe malaria. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2009; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0903419106

Cite This Page:

Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência (IGC). "Naturally-occurring Protection Against Severe Malaria Demonstrated." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 August 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090819084121.htm>.
Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência (IGC). (2009, August 24). Naturally-occurring Protection Against Severe Malaria Demonstrated. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090819084121.htm
Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência (IGC). "Naturally-occurring Protection Against Severe Malaria Demonstrated." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090819084121.htm (accessed September 18, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

The Cost of Ebola

The Cost of Ebola

Reuters - Business Video Online (Sep. 18, 2014) — As Sierra Leone prepares for a three-day "lockdown" in its latest bid to stem the spread of Ebola, Ciara Lee looks at the financial implications of fighting the largest ever outbreak of the disease. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
What HealthKit Bug Means For Your iOS Fitness Apps

What HealthKit Bug Means For Your iOS Fitness Apps

Newsy (Sep. 18, 2014) — Apple has delayed the launch of the HealthKit app platform, citing a bug. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Residents Vaccinated as Haiti Fights Cholera Epidemic

Residents Vaccinated as Haiti Fights Cholera Epidemic

AFP (Sep. 18, 2014) — Haitians receive the second dose of the vaccine against cholera as part of the UN's vaccination campaign. Duration: 00:34 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Elephant Undergoes Surgery in Tbilisi Zoo

Raw: Elephant Undergoes Surgery in Tbilisi Zoo

AP (Sep. 18, 2014) — Grand the elephant has successfully undergone surgery to remove a portion of infected tusk at Tbilisi Zoo in Georgia. British veterinary surgeons used an electric drill to extract the infected piece. (Sept. 18) 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:
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