Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Scientists find new insight into genome of neglected malaria parasite

10.10.2008
As international health authorities step up efforts to fight malaria, leading scientists say the stealthy and increasingly debilitating Plasmodium vivax parasite deserves more attention.

The complete sequence of the P. vivax genome, reported in the Oct.9, 2008 journal Nature, could help scientists unlock its secrets.

P. vivax is responsible for at least 25 percent of the roughly 500 million cases of malaria worldwide and is the major cause of malaria outside Africa, mainly afflicting Asia and the Americas.

While P. vivax infection is usually non-lethal and doctors once considered it "benign," an increasing number of reports show the parasite can kill, says Mary Galinski, PhD, co-author of the Nature article and a researcher at Yerkes National Primate Research Center and Emory Vaccine Center of the Emory University School of Medicine.

Galinski, a professor of infectious diseases at Emory University School of Medicine, and her colleague at Yerkes, co-author and research associate Esmeralda Meyer, MD, played a critical role in assembling P. vivax's genetic information because the parasite cannot be cultured in the laboratory and can only be grown in living monkeys.

The full sequence and its analysis were a collaboration involving scientists from a dozen institutions and coordinated by the Institute of Genomic Research, part of the J. Craig Venter Institute in Rockville, Md. The first author is microbiologist Jane Carlton, PhD, now associate professor of parasitology at New York University School of Medicine.

Galinski says the complete genetic sequence of P. vivax has revealed unique genes that appear to be important for invading the host's cells and in evading the host's immune system. Unlike other malaria parasites such as P. falciparum, P. vivax can only invade reticulocytes, immature red blood cells.

Both P. vivax and P. falciparum are carried by mosquitoes and can cause fever, chills, headache, nausea and vomiting. P. falciparum's genomic sequence was published in 2002.

Compared with P. falciparum, P. vivax's ability to come back from dormancy in the liver, its faster development in the mosquito and the outdoor biting behavior of mosquitoes it prefers may make P. vivax more resilient to common control methods such as insecticide-treated nets, Galinski says.

She says knowing P. vivax's full set of genes could help scientists better understand the distinctive "hypnozoite" phase of its life cycle, when the parasite lays dormant in liver cells for months or years after initial infection.

"That's one of the areas we hope to crack, but it will only be possible by combining the new genetic information with experiments in living animals," she says.

The complete sequence of the P. vivax genome could help scientists look for new drugs and design vaccines. In the Nature paper, the authors analyzed P. vivax enzymes by computer to examine how easily resistance could develop against the antimalarial compounds artemisinin and atovaquone.

Despite the threat posed by P. vivax, Galinski notes that only two candidate vaccines and one drug against P. vivax are now in clinical trials, compared with 23 vaccine candidates and 13 drugs for P. falciparum.

She and Alberto Moreno, MD, professor of infectious diseases at Emory and an researchers at Yerkes and Emory Vaccine Center, recently published studies of a P. vivax vaccine candidate. They showed that the vaccine effectively stimulated monkeys' immune systems to produce antibodies, which in laboratory tests could block proteins the parasites use to invade blood cells.

Galinski is also a co-author on a companion paper in the same issue of Nature describing the genome of the malaria parasite Plasmodium knowlesi, whose natural host is the Kra monkey but can also infect humans. Because a laboratory culture system for P. vivax is lacking, this related parasite will be important for future malaria research, she says.

Sarah Goodwin | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.emory.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Symbiotic bacteria: from hitchhiker to beetle bodyguard
28.04.2017 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

nachricht Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis
28.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Grenzflächen- und Bioverfahrenstechnik IGB

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Fighting drug resistant tuberculosis – InfectoGnostics meets MYCO-NET² partners in Peru

28.04.2017 | Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Wireless power can drive tiny electronic devices in the GI tract

28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering

Ice cave in Transylvania yields window into region's past

28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis

28.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>