Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New molecular target identified for treating cerebral malaria

30.01.2015

A drug already approved for treating other diseases may be useful as a treatment for cerebral malaria, according to researchers at Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health. They discovered a novel link between food intake during the early stages of infection and the outcome of the disease, identifying two molecular pathways that could serve as new targets for treatment.

"We have known for a long time that nutrition can affect the course of infectious disease, but we were surprised at how rapidly a mild reduction in food intake could improve outcome in a mouse malaria model," said senior author James Mitchell, associate professor of genetics and complex diseases. "However, the real importance of this work is the identification of unexpected molecular pathways underlying cerebral malaria that we can now target with existing drugs."

The study appears online January 30, 2015 in Nature Communications.

Cerebral malaria -- a severe form of the disease -- is the most serious consequence of infection by the parasite Plasmodium falciparum, resulting in seizures, coma, and death. Currently there is a lack of safe treatment options for cerebral malaria, particularly for use in children, who represent the majority of cases. Even patients who receive early treatment with standard antimalarial chemotherapeutic agents run a high risk of dying, despite clearance of the parasite. Moreover, around 25% of survivors develop neurological complications and cognitive impairment.

Lead authors Pedro Mejia and J. Humberto Treviño-Villarreal, both researchers at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, found that leptin--a hormone secreted from fat tissue with roles in suppressing appetite, but also in activating adaptive immune and inflammatory responses--is increased upon infection in a mouse model of cerebral malaria, and turns out to be a major bad actor in promoting neurological symptoms and death.

Remarkably, Mejia, Treviño-Villarreal and colleagues showed that reducing leptin using a variety of means, either genetically, pharmacologically, or nutritionally by reducing food intake during the first two days of infection, protected against cerebral malaria.

The researchers also found that leptin acted primarily on cytotoxic T cells by turning on the well-studied mTOR protein, for which pharmacologic inhibitors are readily available. In their animal model, treating mice with the mTOR inhibitor rapamycin protected them against the neurological complications of cerebral malaria.

Protection was due in part to a preservation of the blood brain barrier, which prevented the entry of blood cells carrying the parasites into the brain. As rapamycin is already FDA-approved for use in humans, trials in humans for cerebral malaria treatment with this drug may be possible, according to the researchers.

This study was the result of an ongoing collaboration between the Mitchell lab in the Department of Genetics and Complex Diseases and the labs of Manoj Duraisingh and Dyann Wirth in the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases. Other Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health authors included Christopher Hine, Eylul Harputlugil, Samantha Lang, Ediz Calay and Rick Rogers.

This study was supported in part by grants from NIH (DK090629 and AG036712) and the Glenn Foundation for Medical Research to J.R.M.; a Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health Yerby postdoctoral fellowship to Mejia, and financial support from the Universidad Auto´noma de Nuevo Leo´n to Treviño-Villarreal.

"Dietary restriction protects against experimental cerebral malaria via leptin modulation and T-cell mTORC1 suppression," Pedro Mejia, J. Humberto Treviño -Villarreal, Christopher Hine, Eylul Harputlugil, Samantha Lang, Ediz Calay, Rick Rogers, Dyann Wirth, Manoj Duraisingh, and James R. Mitchell, Nature Communications, online January 30, 2015, 6:6050 doi: 10.1038/ncomms7050 (2014).

Visit the Harvard Chan website for the latest news, press releases, and multimedia offerings.

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health brings together dedicated experts from many disciplines to educate new generations of global health leaders and produce powerful ideas that improve the lives and health of people everywhere. As a community of leading scientists, educators, and students, we work together to take innovative ideas from the laboratory to people's lives--not only making scientific breakthroughs, but also working to change individual behaviors, public policies, and health care practices. Each year, more than 400 faculty members at Harvard Chan teach 1,000-plus full-time students from around the world and train thousands more through online and executive education courses. Founded in 1913 as the Harvard-MIT School of Health Officers, the School is recognized as America's oldest professional training program in public health.

Marge Dwyer | EurekAlert!

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Deep stimulation improves cognitive control by augmenting brain rhythms
04.04.2019 | Picower Institute at MIT

nachricht Black nanoparticles slow the growth of tumors
04.04.2019 | Technische Universität München

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: Explosion on Jupiter-sized star 10 times more powerful than ever seen on our sun

A stellar flare 10 times more powerful than anything seen on our sun has burst from an ultracool star almost the same size as Jupiter

  • Coolest and smallest star to produce a superflare found
  • Star is a tenth of the radius of our Sun
  • Researchers led by University of Warwick could only see...

Im Focus: Quantum simulation more stable than expected

A localization phenomenon boosts the accuracy of solving quantum many-body problems with quantum computers which are otherwise challenging for conventional computers. This brings such digital quantum simulation within reach on quantum devices available today.

Quantum computers promise to solve certain computational problems exponentially faster than any classical machine. “A particularly promising application is the...

Im Focus: Largest, fastest array of microscopic 'traffic cops' for optical communications

The technology could revolutionize how information travels through data centers and artificial intelligence networks

Engineers at the University of California, Berkeley have built a new photonic switch that can control the direction of light passing through optical fibers...

Im Focus: A long-distance relationship in femtoseconds

Physicists observe how electron-hole pairs drift apart at ultrafast speed, but still remain strongly bound.

Modern electronics relies on ultrafast charge motion on ever shorter length scales. Physicists from Regensburg and Gothenburg have now succeeded in resolving a...

Im Focus: Researchers 3D print metamaterials with novel optical properties

Engineers create novel optical devices, including a moth eye-inspired omnidirectional microwave antenna

A team of engineers at Tufts University has developed a series of 3D printed metamaterials with unique microwave or optical properties that go beyond what is...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Revered mathematicians and computer scientists converge with 200 young researchers in Heidelberg!

17.04.2019 | Event News

First dust conference in the Central Asian part of the earth’s dust belt

15.04.2019 | Event News

Fraunhofer FHR at the IEEE Radar Conference 2019 in Boston, USA

09.04.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

New automated biological-sample analysis systems to accelerate disease detection

18.04.2019 | Life Sciences

Explosion on Jupiter-sized star 10 times more powerful than ever seen on our sun

18.04.2019 | Physics and Astronomy

New eDNA technology used to quickly assess coral reefs

18.04.2019 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>