A person's immune system can form antibodies against sugar molecules on the malaria pathogen, which protect against serious illness. A new blood test developed by a team of ETH Zurich and Swiss Tropical Institute researchers headed by Professor Peter Seeberger enables these antibodies to be detected. The researchers' work was published online in the journal "Nature Chemical Biology" on March 2, 2008.
ETH Zurich professor Peter Seeberger has been working on a sugar-based malaria vaccine for years. The new test takes him one important step closer to his goal. The malaria pathogen plasmodium falciparum carries poisonous sugar molecules - called GPIs for short - on its surface that are able to be individually identified. Professor Seeberger's research team is now developing a new method that demonstrates that the malaria pathogen's toxic sugar molecules trigger a specific immune reaction in adults.
Antibodies in blood from malaria regions
Tests show that blood samples taken from adults living in areas of Africa where malaria is endemic contain specific antibodies against particular GPIs. While infection is still possible despite the antibodies, the consequences are less serious. The immune system recognizes the poisonous sugar molecules as foreign bodies and blocks their toxic impact. Not living in high-risk areas, Europeans lack the relevant antibodies. As soon as Europeans are infected with malaria, the number of antibodies increases significantly. Subsequently, there is a direct link between the amount of antibodies and protection against the disease.
This insight is thanks to a novel method for detecting antibodies. Faustin Kamena, a post-doc in Professor Seeberger's lab, has developed a special chip that can, inexpensively and with minute quantities of blood serum and sugar molecules, determine whether or not someone has formed particular antibodies against various GPIs. To this end, the researchers use the purest possible GPIs. These can be produced synthetically and in large amounts in a laboratory, as the Seeberger team has demonstrated in earlier research.
The new method involves affixing over 64 pads comprising pinpoint dots to glass slides. Every little pad consists of several tiny heaps of different GPIs in varying concentrations. When blood serum is then administered to such a pad, possible antibodies specifically bind to certain sugar molecules. Dyes then reveal to which GPIs the antibodies have attached themselves.
Help for infants
Thanks to the information obtained from the chip, scientists can produce the specific sugar molecules that the immune system has to recognize. The findings on natural resistance subsequently acquired are crucial to developing a sugar-based malaria vaccine. This could prove particularly beneficial to children in malaria-infested regions.
The millions of malaria sufferers are primarily infants under the age of five as only adults develop antibodies against the malaria pathogen's sugars. An infant's immune system is incapable of recognizing and combating the toxic sugar molecules. Consequently, a new, selective vaccine is now called for. Professor Seeberger states: "This evidence is another important step towards finding a malaria vaccine because we now know which antibodies protect adults."
Renata Cosby | alfa
Scientists uncover the role of a protein in production & survival of myelin-forming cells
19.07.2018 | Advanced Science Research Center, GC/CUNY
NYSCF researchers develop novel bioengineering technique for personalized bone grafts
18.07.2018 | New York Stem Cell Foundation
For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.
To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...
For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.
Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...
Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.
A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...
Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.
"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....
Ultra-short, high-intensity X-ray flashes open the door to the foundations of chemical reactions. Free-electron lasers generate these kinds of pulses, but there is a catch: the pulses vary in duration and energy. An international research team has now presented a solution: Using a ring of 16 detectors and a circularly polarized laser beam, they can determine both factors with attosecond accuracy.
Free-electron lasers (FELs) generate extremely short and intense X-ray flashes. Researchers can use these flashes to resolve structures with diameters on the...
13.07.2018 | Event News
12.07.2018 | Event News
03.07.2018 | Event News
19.07.2018 | Earth Sciences
19.07.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering
19.07.2018 | Materials Sciences