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 On track to heal leukaemia
18.01.2017 | Universitätsspital Bern

nachricht Penn vet research identifies new target for taming Ebola
12.01.2017 | University of Pennsylvania

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: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

Im Focus: How to inflate a hardened concrete shell with a weight of 80 t

At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).

Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

Nothing will happen without batteries making it happen!

05.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

How gut bacteria can make us ill

18.01.2017 | Life Sciences

On track to heal leukaemia

18.01.2017 | Health and Medicine

Water - as the underlying driver of the Earth’s carbon cycle

17.01.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>