Forum für Wissenschaft, Industrie und Wirtschaft

Hauptsponsoren:     3M 
Datenbankrecherche:

 

Malaria parasite's masquerade ball could come to an end

03.12.2012
Hebrew University researchers discover how the deadly malaria parasite evades the immune system, and make significant progress toward developing a cure

More than a million people die each year of malaria caused by different strains of the Plasmodium parasite transmitted by the Anopheles mosquito. The medical world has yet to find an effective vaccine against the deadly parasite, which mainly affects pregnant women and children under the age of five.


Anopheles mosquito (Photo: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

By figuring out how the most dangerous strain evades the watchful eye of the immune system, researchers from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have now paved the way for the development of new approaches to cure this acute infection.

Upon entering the bloodstream, the Plasmodium parasite reproduces in the red blood cells and transports its proteins to their surface. These cells become sticky and cling to the walls of blood vessels, blocking them and damaging the human body. The immune system typically identifies these proteins as foreign and creates antibodies to fight the disease.

The deadliest of the five Plasmodium strains is Plasmodium falciparum, which causes more than 90% of deaths associated with malaria. This sophisticated strain deceives the immune system by revealing only one protein encoded by one of the sixty genes at its disposal. While the immune system is busy fighting that protein, the parasite switches to another protein not recognized by the immune system, thus avoiding the antibody response and re-establishing infection.

In research conducted at the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics at the Institute for Medical Research Israel-Canada, and the Kuvin Center for the Study of Infectious and Tropical Diseases at the Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School, Dr. Ron Dzikowski and research student Inbar Avraham revealed for the first time the genetic mechanism that enables a parasite to selectively express one protein while hiding other proteins from the immune system.

By combining bioinformatic and genetic methods, the researchers identified a unique DNA sequence found in the regulatory regions of the gene family that encode for these surface proteins. They showed that the parasite's ability to express only one gene while hiding the other 59 depends on this sequence. The research suggests that by interfering with the regulatory role of this DNA sequence it would be possible to prevent Plasmodium falciparum from hiding most of its destructive genes from the immune system.

According to Dr. Dzikowski, "These results are a major breakthrough in understanding the parasite's ability to cause damage. This understanding could lead to strategies for disrupting this ability and giving the immune system an opportunity to clear the infection and overcome the disease. This clever parasite knows how to switch masks to evade an immune attack, but our discovery could lead to new ways to prevent it from continuing this dangerous game."

The research, "Insulator-like pairing elements regulate silencing and mutually exclusive expression in the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum," was published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. It was funded by the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities and the Einstein Kaye Fellowships, which supports outstanding research students.

For information, contact:

Dov Smith, Hebrew University Foreign Press Liaison
02-5881641 / 054-8820860 (+972-54-8820860)
dovs@savion.huji.ac.il
Orit Sulitzeanu, Hebrew University Spokesperson
02-5882910 / 054-8820016
orits@savion.huji.ac.il

Dov Smith | Hebrew University
Further information:
http://www.huji.ac.il

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Subcutaneous Administration of Multispecific Antibody Makes Tumor Treatment Faster & More Tolerable
01.07.2015 | Helmholtz Zentrum München - Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Gesundheit und Umwelt

nachricht Why human egg cells don't age well
01.07.2015 | RIKEN

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Radar schützt vor Weltraummüll

Die Bedrohung im All durch Weltraummüll ist groß. Aktive Satelliten und Raumfahrzeuge können beschädigt oder zerstört werden. Ein neues, nationales Weltraumüberwachungssystem soll ab 2018 vor Gefahren im Orbit schützen. Fraunhofer-Forscher entwickeln das Radar im Auftrag des DLR Raumfahrtmanagement.

Die »Verkehrssituation« im All ist angespannt: Neben unzähligen Satelliten umkreisen Weltraumtrümmer wie beispielsweise ausgebrannte Raketenstufen und...

Im Focus: X-rays and electrons join forces to map catalytic reactions in real-time

New technique combines electron microscopy and synchrotron X-rays to track chemical reactions under real operating conditions

A new technique pioneered at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory reveals atomic-scale changes during catalytic reactions in real...

Im Focus: Neue Flugzeugflügel reparieren Risse von selbst

Prozess basiert auf Kohlefasern, die bei Schäden sofort aktiv werden

Forscher der University of Bristol http://bris.ac.uk haben Flugzeugflügel entwickelt, die sich im Falle eines Schadens selbst reparieren können. Als...

Im Focus: Aktuatoren – bewegt wie die Mittagsblume

Materialien nach dem Vorbild mancher Pflanzen könnten Robotern künftig zu natürlichen Bewegungen verhelfen

Wenn Ingenieure bewegliche Komponenten von Robotern entwickeln, können sie sich demnächst vielleicht der Kniffe von Pflanzen bedienen. Forscher des...

Im Focus: Iron: A biological element?

Think of an object made of iron: An I-beam, a car frame, a nail. Now imagine that half of the iron in that object owes its existence to bacteria living two and a half billion years ago.

Think of an object made of iron: An I-beam, a car frame, a nail. Now imagine that half of the iron in that object owes its existence to bacteria living two and...

Alle Focus-News des Innovations-reports >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

IHR
JOB & KARRIERE
SERVICE
im innovations-report
in Kooperation mit academics
Veranstaltungen

Dauerbrenner Zusatzstoffe in Lebensmitteln

01.07.2015 | Veranstaltungen

Interdisziplinäres Forschungscluster „Demografischer Wandel“ tagte zum ersten Mal

01.07.2015 | Veranstaltungen

DBU lädt ein zu Forum über nachhaltige Landwirtschaft

01.07.2015 | Veranstaltungen

 
B2B-VideoLinks
Weitere VideoLinks >>>
Aktuelle Beiträge

Dauerbrenner Zusatzstoffe in Lebensmitteln

01.07.2015 | Veranstaltungsnachrichten

Neun neue Forschergruppen, eine neue Klinische Forschergruppe

01.07.2015 | Förderungen Preise

Offshore-Windkraftwerk Westermost Rough offiziell eingeweiht

01.07.2015 | Unternehmensmeldung