Malaria study may pave way for faster treatments

November 29th, 2007 - 4:27 pm ICT by admin  

Washington, Nov 29 (ANI): Researchers from MIT and Harvard University have found new parasitic states of malaria parasites, which might help open the door to the development of new malaria treatments that ameliorate disease symptoms by targeting the parasites behaviour.

The study found three distinct groups of parasites with characteristic sets of active and inactive genes.

In the study, blood samples from 43 P. falciparum-infected malaria patients who were suffering from a range of malaria symptoms were collected.

The researchers isolated the parasites genomic information and determined which of the nearly 6,000 P. falciparum genes were switched on or off during infection, which revealed the separate groups of parasites.

By comparing the information about P. falciparum with gene activation patterns in a similar but better-understood organism, bakers yeast, the scientists described the three biological classes of malaria parasites.

One state is well known from laboratory studies, but the other two have never been observed before.

One newly described state appears to reflect starving parasites, while the other suggests parasites under extreme environmental stress.

The team said that the latter group correlated with specific patient symptoms, including high fevers and elevated levels of inflammatory markers in their blood.

The findings suggest that the state of the parasite might correlate with a malaria patients symptoms, which can range from mild, flu-like illness to coma and even death. (ANI)

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