Scientists at Georgetown University are describing the first use of a new microscope technology to capture images of live malaria parasites inside human red blood cells. They say the advance could be important in efforts to understand the malaria parasite's deadly tendency to become resistant to anti-malaria drugs and in developing new drugs and vaccines for the disease.
Malaria kills about one million people worldwide each year. About 90 percent are in Africa and 70 percent are children under the age of five.
Georgetown University researcher Paul D. Roepe and colleagues explain that the malaria parasite's unusual biology makes it difficult to visualize these organisms while they are alive and active inside human cells. In order to overcome the limitations of existing imaging techniques, the researchers modified a spinning disk confocal microscope (SDCM).
They describe the SDCM and its initial uses in two papers scheduled for publication in the current (Oct. 17) issue of the weekly ACS journal, Biochemistry. The modified SDCM captured unprecedented images of live malaria parasites, which Roepe and colleagues publish for the first time in one of the papers.
Materials provided by American Chemical Society. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.
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