Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Malaria's newest pathway into human cells identified

Date:
September 27, 2010
Source:
Walter and Eliza Hall Institute
Summary:
Development of an effective vaccine for malaria is a step closer following identification of a key pathway used by the malaria parasite to infect human cells. The discovery provides a new vaccine target through which infection with the deadly disease could be prevented.

Professor Alan Cowman has identified a new pathway used by the malaria parasite to infect human cells.
Credit: Image courtesy of Walter and Eliza Hall Institute

Development of an effective vaccine for malaria is a step closer following identification of a key pathway used by the malaria parasite to infect human cells. The discovery, by researchers at The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, provides a new vaccine target through which infection with the deadly disease could be prevented.

Each year more than 400 million people contract malaria, and more than one million, mostly children, die from the disease. The most lethal form of malaria is caused by the parasite Plasmodium falciparum. Part of the parasite's success lies in its ability to deploy multiple ways to invade red blood cells, a process essential for the survival of the parasite within the human host.

Professor Alan Cowman, head of the institute's Infection and Immunity division, led the research with Dr Wai-Hong Tham, Dr Danny Wilson, Mr Sash Lopaticki, Mr Jason Corbin, Dr Dave Richard, Dr James Beeson from the institute and collaborators at the University of Edinburgh.

For decades, it has been known that malaria parasites use proteins called glycophorins as a means of entering red blood cells. This new research reveals an alternative pathway used by the parasite to enter red blood cells. The pathway does not involve glycophorins, instead requiring the binding of a parasite molecule named PfRh4 to Complement Receptor 1 (CR1), a common protein found on the surface of red blood cells.

"The parasite is like a master burglar - it will try a variety of different methods to get into the house, not just the front door," Professor Cowman said. "Although the human body has evolved a variety of methods to keep the parasite out, it keeps finding new ways to get in."

Professor Cowman said the PfRh family of surface proteins is involved in the recognition of red blood cell receptors, which allows the parasite to attach to the red blood cell surface and gain entry.

"We think that the parasite uses this protein to correctly identify the red blood cell and say 'Yes, this is the one we want to invade', it's like a quality assurance process," Professor Cowman said.

"The PfRh4-CR1 pathway is one of the most important of the pathways we've identified for entry of malaria parasites into cells," Professor Cowman said. "We are now at the stage where we have identified the best combination of proteins for a vaccine, and are ready to start clinical development.

"When both glycophorin and CR1 pathways are blocked, there is a 90 per cent decrease in infection of the cells with the parasite. These results suggest that if a vaccine were to stimulate the immune system to recognise and generate antibodies to the prevalent invasion pathways, there is a good chance it would lead to a significant decrease in malaria infection."

The research was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The study was supported by the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia, the Darwin Trust of Edinburgh, the Wellcome Trust and the Victorian Government.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Walter and Eliza Hall Institute. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. W.-H. Tham, D. W. Wilson, S. Lopaticki, C. Q. Schmidt, P. B. Tetteh-Quarcoo, P. N. Barlow, D. Richard, J. E. Corbin, J. G. Beeson, A. F. Cowman. Complement receptor 1 is the host erythrocyte receptor for Plasmodium falciparum PfRh4 invasion ligand. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2010; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1008151107

Cite This Page:

Walter and Eliza Hall Institute. "Malaria's newest pathway into human cells identified." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 September 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100924095831.htm>.
Walter and Eliza Hall Institute. (2010, September 27). Malaria's newest pathway into human cells identified. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100924095831.htm
Walter and Eliza Hall Institute. "Malaria's newest pathway into human cells identified." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100924095831.htm (accessed October 20, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Monday, October 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

White Lion Cubs Born in Belgrade Zoo

White Lion Cubs Born in Belgrade Zoo

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) Two white lion cubs, an extremely rare subspecies of the African lion, were recently born at Belgrade Zoo. They are being bottle fed by zoo keepers after they were rejected by their mother after birth. Duration: 00:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) He is leading a one man agricultural revolution in Mali - Oumar Diatabe uses traditional farming methods to get the most out of his land and is teaching others across the country how to do the same. Duration: 01:44 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Goliath Spider Will Give You Nightmares

Goliath Spider Will Give You Nightmares

Buzz60 (Oct. 20, 2014) An entomologist stumbled upon a South American Goliath Birdeater. With a name like that, you know it's a terrifying creepy crawler. Sean Dowling (@SeanDowlingTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Hey, Doc! Sewage, Beer and Food Scraps Can Power Chevrolet’s Bi-Fuel Impala

Hey, Doc! Sewage, Beer and Food Scraps Can Power Chevrolet’s Bi-Fuel Impala

3BL Media (Oct. 20, 2014) Hey, Doc! Sewage, Beer and Food Scraps Can Power Chevrolet’s Bi-fuel Impala Video provided by 3BL
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


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

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