Malaria is transmitted to humans through bites from mosquitoes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between 350 million and 500 million cases of malaria occur world-wide annually, and more than 1 million people, mostly children living in areas of Africa south of the Sahara, die each year from it.
For decades, researchers have known that a molecule called glycophorin B, which is found on the surface of human red blood cells, is important for invasion of the malaria parasite. However, the specific molecule by which the malaria parasite attaches itself to invade the host was not known until now.
The team examined how the malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum, interacts with red blood cells using a biochemical test that looks specifically at how the parasite and host bind to each other. The findings revealed that the EBL-1 molecule is the specific attachment site used by the parasite on glycophorin B.
The study was published online in the Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences the week of March 9.
"We have now identified how the parasite binds to glycophorin B on the red blood cells. Down the road, the EBL-1 molecule could be used as a vaccine target against malaria as part of a multivalent vaccine, or vaccine cocktail," said principal investigator Ghislaine Mayer, Ph.D., assistant professor in the VCU Department of Biology.
Additionally, Mayer and her team hypothesize that the malaria parasite may be the cause of the loss of the gene for glycophorin B in the pygmies of Ituri forest in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
According to Mayer, these findings suggest that the parasite may possibly be putting selective pressure on populations in malaria-endemic areas, such as the Democratic Republic of Congo. She said that there appears to be a disproportionate number of individuals in malaria-endemic areas with unusual or mutated red blood cell surface molecules.
"We think these changes on the surface of the red blood cell may lead to a decrease in the severity of malaria or resistance against malaria. For example, Africans are protected from a form of malaria caused by the Plasmodium vivax parasite because the molecule that the parasite recognizes is missing from the surface of their red blood cells because of a mutation," said Mayer.
Sathya Achia Abraham | EurekAlert!
Advanced analysis of brain structure shape may track progression to Alzheimer's disease
26.10.2016 | Massachusetts General Hospital
Indian roadside refuse fires produce toxic rainbow
26.10.2016 | Duke University
Physicists from the University of Würzburg have designed a light source that emits photon pairs. Two-photon sources are particularly well suited for tap-proof data encryption. The experiment's key ingredients: a semiconductor crystal and some sticky tape.
So-called monolayers are at the heart of the research activities. These "super materials" (as the prestigious science magazine "Nature" puts it) have been...
Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.
This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...
Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion
Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...
Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...
In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
28.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering
28.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy
28.10.2016 | Life Sciences