Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Laser optical tweezers reveal how malaria parasites infect red blood cells

Date:
August 19, 2014
Source:
Cell Press
Summary:
Little is known about how malaria invades one red blood cell after another because it happens so quickly. In a new study, researchers used laser optical tweezers to study interactions between the disease-causing parasite and red blood cells. The findings reveal surprising new insights into malaria biology and pave the way for the development of more effective drugs or vaccines for a disease that affects hundreds of millions of people around the world.

Malaria is a life-threatening disease caused by a parasite that invades one red blood cell after another. Little is known about this infection process because it happens so quickly, potentially explaining why there is currently no approved malaria vaccine. In a study published by Cell Press August 19th in the Biophysical Journal, researchers used a tool called laser optical tweezers to study interactions between the disease-causing parasite and red blood cells. The findings reveal surprising new insights into malaria biology and pave the way for the development of more effective drugs or vaccines for a disease that affects hundreds of millions of people around the world.

Related Articles


"Using laser tweezers to study red blood cell invasion gives us an unprecedented level of control over the whole process and will help us to understand this critical process at a level of detail that has not been possible before," says senior study author Julian Rayner of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute.

The malaria-causing parasite, Plasmodium falciparum, usually leaves one red blood cell and invades another in less than one minute and loses the ability to infect host cells within two or three minutes of release. To study this transient event, Rayner and senior study author Pietro Cicuta of the University of Cambridge used laser optical tweezers because this instrument allows for precise control over the movements of cells by exerting extremely small forces with a highly focused laser beam. The researchers used optical tweezers to pick up individual parasites that had just emerged from a red blood cell and deliver them to another red blood cell, demonstrating that the technique is suitable for studying the invasion process.

Rayner and Cicuta also used optical tweezers to measure how strongly the parasites adhere to red blood cells. They discovered that attachment is probably mediated by multiple weak interactions, which could potentially be blocked by a combination of drugs or antibodies. Moreover, the team used the technique to shed light on how three different invasion-inhibiting drugs affect interactions between the parasites and red blood cells.

Taken together, the findings show that optical tweezers are a powerful tool for studying malaria biology and drug mechanisms at the single-cell level. "We now plan to apply this technology to dissect the process of invasion and understand what genes and proteins function at what step," Rayner says. "This will allow us to design better inhibitors or vaccines that block invasion by targeting multiple steps at the same time."


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. AlexJ. Crick, Michel Theron, Teresa Tiffert, VirgilioL. Lew, Pietro Cicuta, JulianC. Rayner. Quantitation of Malaria Parasite-Erythrocyte Cell-Cell Interactions Using Optical Tweezers. Biophysical Journal, 2014; 107 (4): 846 DOI: 10.1016/j.bpj.2014.07.010

Cite This Page:

Cell Press. "Laser optical tweezers reveal how malaria parasites infect red blood cells." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 August 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140819125942.htm>.
Cell Press. (2014, August 19). Laser optical tweezers reveal how malaria parasites infect red blood cells. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140819125942.htm
Cell Press. "Laser optical tweezers reveal how malaria parasites infect red blood cells." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140819125942.htm (accessed December 19, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, December 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Kids Die While Under Protective Services

Kids Die While Under Protective Services

AP (Dec. 18, 2014) As part of a six-month investigation of child maltreatment deaths, the AP found that hundreds of deaths from horrific abuse and neglect could have been prevented. AP's Haven Daley reports. (Dec. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dads-To-Be Also Experience Hormone Changes During Pregnancy

Dads-To-Be Also Experience Hormone Changes During Pregnancy

Newsy (Dec. 18, 2014) A study from University of Michigan researchers found that expectant fathers see a decrease in testosterone as the baby's birth draws near. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Prenatal Exposure To Pollution Might Increase Autism Risk

Prenatal Exposure To Pollution Might Increase Autism Risk

Newsy (Dec. 18, 2014) Harvard researchers found children whose mothers were exposed to high pollution levels in the third trimester were twice as likely to develop autism. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
UN: Up to One Million Facing Hunger in Ebola-Hit Countries

UN: Up to One Million Facing Hunger in Ebola-Hit Countries

AFP (Dec. 17, 2014) Border closures, quarantines and crop losses in West African nations battling the Ebola virus could lead to as many as one million people going hungry, UN food agencies said on Wednesday. Duration: 00:52 Video provided by AFP
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