Every year, malaria kills as many as 2.5 million people. Ninety percent of these deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa, and most are children. While four species of the single-celled organism Plasmodium cause malaria, Plasmodium falciparum is the deadliest. Harbored in mosquito saliva, the parasite infects its human host as the mosquito feeds on the victims blood. Efforts to control the disease have taken on an increased sense of urgency, as more P. falciparum strains show resistance to anti-malarial drugs. To develop new drugs and vaccines that disable the parasite, researchers need a better understanding of the regulatory mechanisms that drive the malarial life cycle. In an article that will appear in the inaugural issue of PLoS Biology (and currently available online at (http://www.plos.org/downloads/malaria_plosbiology.pdf), Joseph DeRisi and colleagues provide the first comprehensive molecular analysis of a key phase of the parasites life cycle.
While P. falciparum is a single-celled eukaryotic (nucleated) organism, it leads a fairly complicated life, assuming one form in the mosquito, another when it invades the human liver, and still another in human red blood cells (erythrocytes). The intraerythrocytic developmental cycle (IDC) is the stage of the P. falciparum life cycle associated with the clinical symptoms of malaria. Using data from the recently sequenced P. falciparum genome, the researchers have tracked the expression of all of the parasites genes during the IDC.
The pattern of gene expression (which can be thought of as the internal operating system of the cell) during the IDC is strikingly simple. Its continuous and clock-like progression of gene activation is reminiscent of much simple life forms – such as a virus or phage – while unprecedented for a free living organism. Virus and phage behave like a "just in time" assembly line: components are made only as needed, and only in the amount that is needed. In this respect, malaria resembles a glorified virus.
Barbara Cohen | EurekAlert!
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The Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP has been developing various applications for OLED microdisplays based on organic semiconductors. By integrating the capabilities of an image sensor directly into the microdisplay, eye movements can be recorded by the smart glasses and utilized for guidance and control functions, as one example. The new design will be debuted at Augmented World Expo Europe (AWE) in Berlin at Booth B25, October 18th – 19th.
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Every three years, the plastics industry gathers at K, the international trade fair for plastics and rubber in Düsseldorf. The Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will also be attending again and presenting many innovative technologies, such as for joining plastics and metals using ultrashort pulse lasers. From October 19 to 26, you can find the Fraunhofer ILT at the joint Fraunhofer booth SC01 in Hall 7.
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23.09.2016 | Life Sciences
23.09.2016 | Health and Medicine
23.09.2016 | Life Sciences