Scientists isolate key to malaria’s ‘invisibility cloak’January 19th, 2012 - 6:54 pm ICT by IANS
Washington, Jan 19 (IANS) A molecule may be the key to malaria’s ‘invisibility cloak’ and its identification will help explain how the parasite manages to evade the human immune system and cause disease.
A team led by Alan Cowman, professor of immunology at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, has identified a crucial molecules that instructs the parasite to employ its invisibility cloak to hide from the immune system atatck, and helps its offspring to remember how to ‘make’ the cloak.
“We will (now) be able to produce targeted treatments that would be more effective in preventing malaria infection in the approximately three billion people who are at risk of contracting malaria worldwide,” he said.
“The molecule that we discovered, named PfSET10, plays an important role in the genetic control of PfEMP1 - an essential parasite protein - that is used during specific stages of parasite development for its survival,” said Cowman, the journal Cell Host and Mircorbe reports.
“This is the first protein that has been found at what we call the ‘active’ site, where control of the genes that produce PfEMP1 occurs,” he said.
PfEMP1 enables the parasite to stick to cells on the internal lining of blood vessels, which prevents the infected cells from being eliminated from the body, according to an Eliza Hall statement.
It is also responsible for helping the parasites escape destruction by the immune system, by varying the genetic code of the PfEMP1 protein so that at least some of the parasites will evade detection.
This variation lends the parasite the ‘cloak of invisibility’ which makes it difficult for the immune system to detect parasite-infected cells, and is part of the reason a vaccine has remained elusive.
Each year more than 250 million people are infected with malaria and approximately 655,000 people, mostly children, die.
- Scientists closer to developing anti-malaria shot - Aug 06, 2012
- New pathway used by malaria parasite to infect human cells identified - Sep 25, 2010
- Discovery could lead to 'next-gen' vaccines - Apr 08, 2012
- How malaria parasites manage to outwit our immune system - Dec 01, 2009
- Re-engineering mosquito's immunity to block malaria - Dec 29, 2011
- Scientists locate malaria parasites' Achilles heal - Apr 22, 2012
- Human trials for first genetically engineered malaria vaccine to begin soon - Jul 29, 2009
- Targeting malarias sticky proteins could put an end to the disease - Jul 10, 2008
- Study sheds light on how malaria parasite hijacks human red blood cells - Jul 09, 2008
- Proteins' absence causes diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis - Sep 10, 2012
- Protein group prime candidate for potent malaria vaccine - Jan 19, 2010
- Human trials of malaria vaccine may start next year - Aug 24, 2009
- Key gene helps virus sabotage immune system - Jan 06, 2011
- Removing HIV's 'invisibility cloak' may help defeat the virus - May 22, 2010
- Do immune cells control their own destiny? - Jan 09, 2012
Tags: active site, blood vessels, cloak of invisibility, contracting malaria, cowman, eliza hall institute, genetic code, genetic control, human immune system, immunology, invisibility cloak, jan 19, malaria infection, molecule, molecules, parasite development, parasites, preventing malaria, walter and eliza hall, walter and eliza hall institute