A person's immune system can form antibodies against sugar molecules on the malaria pathogen, which protect against serious illness. A new blood test developed by a team of ETH Zurich and Swiss Tropical Institute researchers headed by Professor Peter Seeberger enables these antibodies to be detected. The researchers' work was published online in the journal "Nature Chemical Biology" on March 2, 2008.
ETH Zurich professor Peter Seeberger has been working on a sugar-based malaria vaccine for years. The new test takes him one important step closer to his goal. The malaria pathogen plasmodium falciparum carries poisonous sugar molecules - called GPIs for short - on its surface that are able to be individually identified. Professor Seeberger's research team is now developing a new method that demonstrates that the malaria pathogen's toxic sugar molecules trigger a specific immune reaction in adults.
Antibodies in blood from malaria regions
Tests show that blood samples taken from adults living in areas of Africa where malaria is endemic contain specific antibodies against particular GPIs. While infection is still possible despite the antibodies, the consequences are less serious. The immune system recognizes the poisonous sugar molecules as foreign bodies and blocks their toxic impact. Not living in high-risk areas, Europeans lack the relevant antibodies. As soon as Europeans are infected with malaria, the number of antibodies increases significantly. Subsequently, there is a direct link between the amount of antibodies and protection against the disease.
This insight is thanks to a novel method for detecting antibodies. Faustin Kamena, a post-doc in Professor Seeberger's lab, has developed a special chip that can, inexpensively and with minute quantities of blood serum and sugar molecules, determine whether or not someone has formed particular antibodies against various GPIs. To this end, the researchers use the purest possible GPIs. These can be produced synthetically and in large amounts in a laboratory, as the Seeberger team has demonstrated in earlier research.
The new method involves affixing over 64 pads comprising pinpoint dots to glass slides. Every little pad consists of several tiny heaps of different GPIs in varying concentrations. When blood serum is then administered to such a pad, possible antibodies specifically bind to certain sugar molecules. Dyes then reveal to which GPIs the antibodies have attached themselves.
Help for infants
Thanks to the information obtained from the chip, scientists can produce the specific sugar molecules that the immune system has to recognize. The findings on natural resistance subsequently acquired are crucial to developing a sugar-based malaria vaccine. This could prove particularly beneficial to children in malaria-infested regions.
The millions of malaria sufferers are primarily infants under the age of five as only adults develop antibodies against the malaria pathogen's sugars. An infant's immune system is incapable of recognizing and combating the toxic sugar molecules. Consequently, a new, selective vaccine is now called for. Professor Seeberger states: "This evidence is another important step towards finding a malaria vaccine because we now know which antibodies protect adults."
Renata Cosby | alfa
Nanoparticle Exposure Can Awaken Dormant Viruses in the Lungs
16.01.2017 | Helmholtz Zentrum München - Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Gesundheit und Umwelt
Cholera bacteria infect more effectively with a simple twist of shape
13.01.2017 | Princeton University
Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...
Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales
Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...
Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.
As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...
At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).
Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...
Many pathogens use certain sugar compounds from their host to help conceal themselves against the immune system. Scientists at the University of Bonn have now, in cooperation with researchers at the University of York in the United Kingdom, analyzed the dynamics of a bacterial molecule that is involved in this process. They demonstrate that the protein grabs onto the sugar molecule with a Pac Man-like chewing motion and holds it until it can be used. Their results could help design therapeutics that could make the protein poorer at grabbing and holding and hence compromise the pathogen in the host. The study has now been published in “Biophysical Journal”.
The cells of the mouth, nose and intestinal mucosa produce large quantities of a chemical called sialic acid. Many bacteria possess a special transport system...
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
05.01.2017 | Event News
17.01.2017 | Earth Sciences
17.01.2017 | Materials Sciences
17.01.2017 | Architecture and Construction