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 Cryo-electron microscopy achieves unprecedented resolution using new computational methods
24.03.2017 | DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

nachricht How cheetahs stay fit and healthy
24.03.2017 | Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V.

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Argon is not the 'dope' for metallic hydrogen

24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences

Astronomers find unexpected, dust-obscured star formation in distant galaxy

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Gravitational wave kicks monster black hole out of galactic core

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>