Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

A Step Closer to a Malaria Vaccine

30.08.2005


An international team of scientists that includes a researcher from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory has determined the three-dimensional molecular structure of a promising malaria-vaccine component. This research may help lead to a successful vaccine for the disease, which currently infects approximately 400 million people worldwide and kills about two million people each year — mostly children. The study is described in the August 29, 2005, online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


A "ribbon diagram" that illustrates the AMA1 segment’s molecular structure



“The high number of deaths from malaria is partly due to the malaria parasite’s acquired resistance to traditional treatments,” said the study’s lead researcher, biologist Adrian Batchelor of the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy. “The parasite is a highly complex organism that develops through different life-cycle stages. This has allowed it to evade the immune system and makes creating a comprehensive vaccine a difficult task.”

Malaria vaccines to date have not been entirely effective, only able to temporarily suppress the disease. A complete, fully protective malaria vaccine will likely consist of several components, each only partially successful at fighting malaria on its own. The potential “part” studied here is a protein known as “Apical Membrane Antigen 1” (AMA1), a protein found on the cell membrane of Plasmodium falciparum, the parasite that causes the most deadly form of malaria.


A vaccine based on AMA1 has a good chance for success because AMA1 is produced, or “expressed,” in two critical parasite life-cycle stages. However, across different malaria strains, AMA1 can have many slight structure variations, called “polymorphisms.” These variations are problematic for vaccine development. Locating the polymorphic sites on AMA1 by determining its structure is essential to understanding how those sites might impact the development of a vaccine.

The research team focused on a particular segment of AMA1. They studied it using x-rays at Brookhaven’s National Synchrotron Light Source (NSLS), a facility that produces x-ray, ultraviolet, and infrared light for research. The x-ray analysis showed that the segment consists of two distinct regions, called domains, and further revealed unusual features: long molecular loops extending outward from the center of one domain. These loops form a “scaffold” for attached amino acids, which can mutate without affecting the function of AMA1. These mutations produce the different AMA1 polymorphisms.

“We think that these polymorphism-bearing loops serve a purpose, such as ‘protecting’ a critical portion of AMA1 from attack by human antibodies,” said Batchelor. “In fact, the AMA1 loops surround a molecular ‘trough’ that we suspect may be responsible for tethering malaria parasites to human red blood cells.”

Biophysicist Michael Becker, the Brookhaven scientist involved, said, “It feels good to contribute to efforts in the fight against malaria, as it’s a critically important disease to eradicate, especially for underprivileged regions of the world, and it is scientifically fascinating. Regarding Brookhaven’s role, it’s the indivisible wedding of science and technology at facilities such as the NSLS — and hopefully at the planned upgraded facility, NSLS-II — that provide us with the tools to pursue and create new science that can solve critical human problems in the real world.”

The researchers plan to build on this research by attempting to identify compounds that will fit into the trough and could prevent the malaria parasite from binding to red blood cells. They will also try to determine if there are non-polymorphic regions of AMA1 that could function as a vaccine.

This study also included scientists from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization and La Trobe University, both located in Australia. It was supported by the Office of Basic Energy Sciences and the Office of Biological and Environmental Research, both within the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science, as well as the National Center for Research Resources within the National Institutes of Health, and the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy.

Related Research

For another recent announcement about a protein structure that may be important in developing a malaria vaccine, see this release. This structure was also determined at the NSLS at Brookhaven Lab.

Laura Mgrdichian | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.bnl.gov

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Hot cars can hit deadly temperatures in as little as one hour
24.05.2018 | Arizona State University

nachricht 3D images of cancer cells in the body: Medical physicists from Halle present new method
16.05.2018 | Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Molecular switch will facilitate the development of pioneering electro-optical devices

A research team led by physicists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed molecular nanoswitches that can be toggled between two structurally different states using an applied voltage. They can serve as the basis for a pioneering class of devices that could replace silicon-based components with organic molecules.

The development of new electronic technologies drives the incessant reduction of functional component sizes. In the context of an international collaborative...

Im Focus: LZH showcases laser material processing of tomorrow at the LASYS 2018

At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.

At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...

Im Focus: Self-illuminating pixels for a new display generation

There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?

At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...

Im Focus: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics

Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...

Im Focus: Dozens of binaries from Milky Way's globular clusters could be detectable by LISA

Next-generation gravitational wave detector in space will complement LIGO on Earth

The historic first detection of gravitational waves from colliding black holes far outside our galaxy opened a new window to understanding the universe. A...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

When corals eat plastics

24.05.2018 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Surgery involving ultrasound energy found to treat high blood pressure

24.05.2018 | Medical Engineering

First chip-scale broadband optical system that can sense molecules in the mid-IR

24.05.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>