Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Malaria parasite caught red-handed invading blood cells

20.01.2011
Australian scientists using new image and cell technologies have for the first time caught malaria parasites in the act of invading red blood cells. The researchers, from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in Melbourne, Australia, and the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS), achieved this long-held aim using a combination of electron, light and super resolution microscopy, a technology platform new to Australia.

The detailed look at what occurs as the parasite burrows through the walls of red blood cells provides new insights into the molecular and cellular events that drive cell invasion and may pave the way for developing new treatments for malaria. Institute researchers Dr Jake Baum, Mr David Riglar, Dr Dave Richard and colleagues from the institute's Infection and Immunity division led the research with colleagues from the i3 institute at UTS.

Dr Baum said the real breakthrough for the research team had been the ability to capture high-resolution images of the parasite at each and every stage of invasion, and to do so reliably and repeatedly. Their findings are published in today's issue of the journal Cell Host & Microbe.

"It is the first time we've been able to actually visualise this process in all its molecular glory, combining new advances developed at the institute for isolating viable parasites with innovative imaging technologies," Dr Baum said.

"Super resolution microscopy has opened up a new realm of understanding into how malaria parasites actually invade the human red blood cell. Whilst we have observed this miniature parasite drive its way into the cell before, the beauty of the new imaging technology is that it provides a quantum leap in the amount of detail we can see, revealing key molecular and cellular events required for each stage of the invasion process."

The imaging technology, called OMX 3D SIM super resolution microscopy, is a powerful new 3D tool that captures cellular processes unfolding at nanometer scales. The team worked closely with Associate Professor Cynthia Whitchurch and Dr Lynne Turnbull from the i3 institute at UTS to capture these images.

"This is just the beginning of an exciting new era of discoveries enabled by this technology that will lead to a better understanding of how microbes such as malaria, bacteria and viruses cause infectious disease," Associate Professor Whitchurch said.

Dr Baum said the methodology would be integral to the development of new malaria drugs and vaccines. "If, for example, you wanted to test a particular drug or vaccine, or investigate how a particular human antibody works to protect you from malaria, this imaging approach now gives us a window to see the actual effects that each reagent or antibody has on the precise steps of invasion," he said.

Malaria is caused by the Plasmodium parasite, which is transmitted by the bite of infected mosquitoes. Each year more than 400 million people contract malaria, and as many as a million, mostly children, die.

"Historically it has been very difficult to both isolate live and viable parasites for infection of red blood cells and to employ imaging technologies sensitive enough to capture snapshots of the invasion process with these parasites, which are only one micron (one millionth of a metre) in diameter," Dr Baum said.

He said one of the most interesting discoveries the imaging approach revealed was that once the parasite has attached to the red blood cell and formed a tight bond with the cell, a master switch for invasion is initiated and invasion will continue unabated without any further checkpoints.

"The parasite actually inserts its own window into the cell, which it then opens and uses to walk into the cell, which is quite extraordinary," Dr Baum said. "Visually tracking the invasion of Plasmodium falciparum into a red blood cell is something I've been aiming at ever since I began at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in 2003; it's really thrilling to have reached that goal. This technology enables us to look at individual proteins that we always knew were involved in invasion, but we never knew what they did or where they were, and that, we believe, is a real leap for malaria researchers worldwide."

This work was supported by the National Health and Medical Research Council, The University of Melbourne, Canadian Institutes of Health, the University of Technology, Sydney, and the Australian Research Council.

Penny Fannin | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.wehi.edu.au

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht A novel socio-ecological approach helps identifying suitable wolf habitats
17.02.2017 | Universität Zürich

nachricht New, ultra-flexible probes form reliable, scar-free integration with the brain
16.02.2017 | University of Texas at Austin

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Switched-on DNA

20.02.2017 | Materials Sciences

Second cause of hidden hearing loss identified

20.02.2017 | Health and Medicine

Prospect for more effective treatment of nerve pain

20.02.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>