Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Researchers block the transmission of malaria in animal tests

10.06.2008
By disrupting the potassium channel of the malaria parasite, a team of researchers has been able to prevent the malaria parasites from forming in mosquitoes and has thereby broken the cycle of infection during recent animal tests.

By genetically altering the malaria parasite through gene knock-out technology, a research team consisting of scientists at the University of Copenhagen and John Hopkins University, Baltimore, has prevented the parasite from going through the normal stages of its life cycle and developing a cyst (egg-like structure or occyst), which spawns new infectious parasites."

As it is exclusively the parasites from these oocysts that can infect new individuals, we were able to prevent the disease from being transmitted to the animals in our tests", explains Assistant Professor, Peter Ellekvist from the University of Copenhagen.

The findings have been published in the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA, (2008 105: 6398-6402).

... more about:
»Animal »Ion »Malaria »parasite »potassium

The intervention "disrupts" the parasites complex life cycle

The malaria parasite has an extremely complicated lifecycle, which starts with the fertilisation of the parasites male and female gametes and the formation of an oocyst, in the mosquito's stomach wall. The oocyst further develops into sporozoittes, which travel up the mosquito's salivary gland and from there are transmitted to people, when the mosquito secures its next blood meal. After residing for a short period in the liver cells, the parasites then infect the red blood cells, thereby wreaking havoc in the human body. The malaria parasites are able to reproduce both through sexual reproduction when they inhabit a mosquito (and are transmitted to the host) and via asexual reproduction when they reside in the human body (replication in the host). For scientists to successfully counteract malaria, they must tackle both the transmission from person to person by the mosquitoes and the spread of the malaria parasites in the infected individual.

The potassium channels are important for all cells

All animal and plant cells contain so-called ion channels. These are small pores which allow ions to move in and out through an otherwise impermeable cell membrane. The potassium channels are a sub-type of ion channel, found in all cells. Though the function of the potassium channels vary, they play a crucial role in a variety of biological processes, e.g. influencing the ability of the nerves to send electrical signals and the heart muscle to contract rhythmically.

Assistant Professor Peter Ellekvist explains that his interest in malaria led to a research collaboration with Professor Dan Klærke, who studies potassium channels at the University of Copenhagen. In collaboration with Professor Nirbhay Kumar and other colleagues from the Malaria Research Institute at John Hopkins University in Baltimore, the two researchers were able to manipulate the parasite's genes so as to ensure that the potassium channel no longer functioned. To their surprise, however, this intervention did not, in the first instance, appear to have any effect on the parasites.

"The gene knock-out parasites essentially killed the mice in the animal tests just as quickly as the "natural" parasites, that had not undergone genetic manipulation," explains Peter Ellekvist. "However, we found that the only parasites that were unable to reproduce sexually, were those with non-functioning potassium channels."

The experiments had effectively disrupted the insect's ability to pass on the disease.

Further research required

The next step for the research team is to examine whether parasites with non-functioning potassium channels react differently to anti-malaria drugs. A success here would allow the researchers to break the second phase of the infection cycle and prevent the asexual reproduction of the malaria parasites that have already gained access to the human body. Blocking the potassium channels of parasites in the body could, for example, render them more susceptible to anti-malaria drugs. Further testing is also required to see whether the manipulation of the potassium channels may also affect the other stages of the parasites lifecycle, such as their development within the liver cells.

Sandra Szivos | alfa
Further information:
http://healthsciences.ku.dk/newslist/potassium/

Further reports about: Animal Ion Malaria parasite potassium

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Molecular Force Sensors
20.09.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Biochemie

nachricht Foster tadpoles trigger parental instinct in poison frogs
20.09.2017 | Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

New technique promises tunable laser devices

Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...

Im Focus: Ultrafast snapshots of relaxing electrons in solids

Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!

When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...

Im Focus: Quantum Sensors Decipher Magnetic Ordering in a New Semiconducting Material

For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.

Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...

Im Focus: Fast, convenient & standardized: New lab innovation for automated tissue engineering & drug

MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems Holding GmbH about commercial use of a multi-well tissue plate for automated and reliable tissue engineering & drug testing.

MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems...

Im Focus: Silencing bacteria

HZI researchers pave the way for new agents that render hospital pathogens mute

Pathogenic bacteria are becoming resistant to common antibiotics to an ever increasing degree. One of the most difficult germs is Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Molecular Force Sensors

20.09.2017 | Life Sciences

Producing electricity during flight

20.09.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

20.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>