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Insight into parasite 'family planning' could help target malaria

Date:
March 18, 2011
Source:
University of Edinburgh
Summary:
Fresh insight into the way the parasite that causes malaria reproduces could lead to new treatments to help curb the spread of the disease.

Fresh insight into the way the parasite that causes malaria reproduces could lead to new treatments to help curb the spread of the disease.

Scientists studying the disease have found that upsetting the parasite's reproductive strategy could prevent infections from transmitting from person to person.

Researchers at the Universities of Edinburgh and Oxford examined the parasite at a stage of its development in which it produces male and female forms in the bloodstream of its victims. These parasites then breed inside mosquitoes to produce fresh offspring that are transmitted when the insects feed on other people or animals.

The study showed that killing either the male or female forms was ineffective at stopping the spread of the disease, because the parasites replace those which are lost. However, the researchers were able to overcome this by damaging the male and female forms instead of killing them. This meant that although the parasites were able to reproduce, their offspring did not survive.

Malaria affects people and animals and is spread by the bite of the mosquito. The disease kills approximately one million people each year, mainly children in sub-Saharan Africa, and affects hundreds of millions more.

The study, published in PLoS Pathogens, was funded by the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology, the Royal Society, Balliol College Oxford and the Wellcome Trust.

Ricardo Ramiro, of the University of Edinburgh's School of Biological Sciences, who took part in the study, said: "Our studies show that inflicting just the right amount of damage could be the best way to interrupt the malaria parasite's development in the mosquito and help prevent the spread of disease."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Edinburgh. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Ricardo S. Ramiro, João Alpedrinha, Lucy Carter, Andy Gardner, Sarah E. Reece. Sex and Death: The Effects of Innate Immune Factors on the Sexual Reproduction of Malaria Parasites. PLoS Pathogens, 2011; 7 (3): e1001309 DOI: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1001309

Cite This Page:

University of Edinburgh. "Insight into parasite 'family planning' could help target malaria." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 March 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110316104111.htm>.
University of Edinburgh. (2011, March 18). Insight into parasite 'family planning' could help target malaria. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110316104111.htm
University of Edinburgh. "Insight into parasite 'family planning' could help target malaria." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110316104111.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

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