||Last Updated: Nov 17th, 2006 - 22:35:04
Retina can provide a very reliable way of diagnosing cerebral malaria
The eye can provide a very reliable way of diagnosing cerebral malaria, researchers in Malawi have shown. By looking at the changes to the retina, doctors are able to determine whether an unconscious child is suffering from this severe form of malaria or another, unrelated illness, leading to the most appropriate treatment.
Nov 7, 2006, 14:23
New findings could lead to vaccine for severe malaria
The most severe form of malaria hits pregnant women and children the hardest. A joint study between Karolinska Institutet in Sweden and Makerere University in Uganda has now produced some important findings on how the malaria parasite conceals itself in the placenta. Plasmodium falciparium is the name of by far the most virulent of the four malaria parasites that infect man. It is particularly dangerous in that it also infects the placenta of pregnant women, with fatal consequences for both her and the foetus. This, combined with the often feeble medical resources of malaria-stricken countries, can lead to such serous complications that the mother dies during delivery.
Sep 4, 2006, 17:00
AgDscam gene Holds the Key to Broad-Based Pathogen Recognition
Anything that's alive runs the risk of infection. How you respond to infection, however, depends on where you sit on the evolutionary tree. Humans and other vertebrates can fend off billions of pathogens by routinely recombining bits of genes for surface molecules on the cells charged with pathogen recognition. Insects and other invertebrates rely to a large degree on the pathogen recognition molecules (called pattern recognition receptors) they were born with. When a pattern recognition receptor detects a pathogen—based on what's known as its pathogen-associated molecular pattern—the receptor can launch a direct attack that either engulfs the invader, through encapsulation or phagocytosis, or triggers signaling pathways that regulate immune system genes involved in killing the pathogen.
Jun 23, 2006, 00:24
Genes responsible for malaria parasite's survival pin pointed
Despite a century of effort to globally control malaria, the disease remains endemic in many parts of the world. With some 40 percent of the world's population living in these areas, the need for more effective vaccines and treatments is profound. The spread of drug-resistance adds to the urgency.
Jun 20, 2006, 19:12
Mosquito immune system examined
Mosquitoes employ the same immune factors to fight off bacterial pathogens as they do to kill malaria-causing Plasmodium parasites, according to a study by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The study identified several genes that encode proteins of the mosquito's immune system. All of the immune genes that were involved in limiting infection by the malaria parasites were also important for the resistance to bacterial infection. However, several immune genes that were essential for resistance to bacterial infection did not affect Plasmodium infection. According to the authors, the findings add to the understanding of mosquito immunity, and could contribute towards the development of malaria-control strategies based on blocking the parasite in the mosquito.
Jun 9, 2006, 13:59
The Haptoglobin Genotype Connection with Childhood Anemia in a Malaria-Endemic Region
The World Health Organization estimates that malaria kills an African child every 30 seconds. Many of these children die because they develop severe anemia (a deficiency of red blood cells). As many as 5 million cases of severe malarial anemia occur in African children every year, and 13% of these cases are fatal. Turning the statistics around, more than half of young children in African countries where malaria is endemic (constantly present) are anemic. Nutritional deficiencies and various infections account for some of this disease burden, but malaria is one of the most important factors contributing to anemia.
May 4, 2006, 23:30
Mosquitoes that could help combat malaria!
Scientists have found a particular type of mosquito in Mali in West Africa that is naturally resistant to malaria and could be helpful in combating the disease.
Apr 30, 2006, 23:07
Malaria parasite plasmodium impairs key immune system cells
Plasmodium, the parasite responsible for malaria, impairs the ability of key cells of the immune system to trigger an efficient immune response. This might explain why patients with malaria are susceptible to a wide range of other infections and fail to respond to several vaccines. In a study published today in the open access journal Journal of Biology, researchers show that if dendritic cells, the key cells involved in initiating immunity, are exposed to red blood cells infected with Plasmodium chabaudi, they initiate a sequence of events that result in compromised antibody responses. The researchers show that this is due to the presence of hemozoin, a by-product of the digestion of hemoglobin by Plasmodium, in infected red blood cells. These observations also explain why vaccines for many diseases are so ineffective during malaria infection, and suggest that the use of preventive anti-malarial drugs before vaccination may improve vaccine-induced protection.
Apr 12, 2006, 13:36
Modeling the Impact of Intermittent Preventative Treatment on the Spread of Drug-Resistant Malaria
Until the mid-20th century, malaria occurred in most temperate, subtropical, and tropical countries of the world. Then, the introduction of powerful insecticides, including DDT, made it possible to eliminate this human parasitic disease in many temperate countries by controlling the mosquitoes that transmit malarial parasites between people. Elsewhere, eradication efforts were less successful, but the use of inexpensive antimalarial drugs such as chloroquine and sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine (SP) further reduced global morbidity and mortality from malaria. Sadly, the rapid spread of resistance to chloroquine (and more recently to SP) has resulted in a resurgence of malaria over the past three decades. Nowadays, 40% of the world's population is at risk of contracting malaria, and every year, it kills at least 1 million people—mainly children. Pregnant women and their unborn children are particularly vulnerable to malaria, for whom it is a major cause of perinatal mortality, low birth weight, and maternal anemia.
Apr 5, 2006, 19:19
Global warming trend may contribute to malaria's rise
Could global warming be contributing to the resurgence of malaria in the East African Highlands? A widely-cited study published a few years ago said no, but new research by an international team that includes University of Michigan theoretical ecologist Mercedes Pascual finds that, while other factors such as drug and pesticide resistance, changing land use patterns and human migration also may play roles, climate change cannot be ruled out.
Mar 22, 2006, 06:22
Surprising genetic differences found in southern house mosquito
The southern house mosquito, found everywhere in the tropics and subtropics, is actually composed of genetically different strains, according to a team of researchers led by a scientist from The Academy of Natural Sciences.
Feb 26, 2006, 17:23
Frog secretion holds promise as mosquito repellent
The secretions of a bottle-green Australian frog could be used in future mosquito repellents as it is effective at warding off the insects, say scientists.
Feb 25, 2006, 09:55
New tool can predict malaria epidemics up to five months in advance
A new tool to predict epidemics of malaria up to five months in advance has been developed by a scientist at the University of Liverpool. The model uses predictions of climate variability to indicate the level of risk of an epidemic up to five months in advance of the peak malaria season – the earliest point at which predictions have ever been made. The model will assist doctors and health care providers in preventing and controlling the disease. Malaria is one of the world's deadliest diseases, killing more than one million people every year, as well as infecting a further 500 million worldwide. The mosquito-borne illness is endemic in several regions globally, but is most acute in Africa, home to an estimated 90 per cent of all cases.
Feb 8, 2006, 11:21
Lymph nodes found to host malarial parasites
Malarial parasites develop not only in the liver - as believed until now - but also in lymph nodes, says a new study.
Jan 23, 2006, 16:04
Malaria Parasites Can Develop in Lymph Nodes
In the first quantitative, real-time imaging study of the travels of the malaria parasite Plasmodium through mammalian tissue, researchers at the Pasteur Institute in Paris found the parasites developing in an unexpected place: the lymph nodes.
Jan 23, 2006, 01:52
How Plasmodium falciparum sneaks past the human immune system
The world's deadliest malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum, sneaks past the human immune system with the help of a wardrobe of invisibility cloaks. If a person's immune cells learn to recognize one of the parasite's many camouflage proteins, the surviving invaders can swap disguises and slip away again to cause more damage. Malaria kills an estimated 2.7 million people annually worldwide, 75 percent of them children in Africa. Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) international research scholars in Australia have determined how P. falciparum can turn on one cloaking gene and keep dozens of others silent until each is needed in turn. Their findings, published in the December 28, 2005, issue of Nature, reveal the mechanism of action of the genetic machinery thought to be the key to the parasite's survival.
Dec 29, 2005, 16:23
Evaluating Host Genetic Factors For Malaria Risk
Malaria parasites invade human red blood cells, and it had already been recognized in the 1940s that diseases of red blood cells such as thalassemia and sickle-cell anemia, which are the most common group of genetic disorders in humans, are mainly found in populations exposed to malaria and their descendants. It seems that much of the genetic variation that affects the phenotype of red blood cells appears to have evolved due to natural selection by malaria. Susceptibility to malaria is also thought to be determined by genetic variation in the human immune system. We know less about the specific immune system genes involved, but this is an important area of research because researchers hope that understanding the molecular basis of natural immunity will speed up the development of an efficient malaria vaccine.
Nov 8, 2005, 17:48
Genes determine mosquitoes feeding habits
Entomologists have isolated three key genes that determine when female mosquitoes feed on blood and when they decide to switch to an all-sugar diet to fatten up for the winter.
David Denlinger, professor of entomology at Ohio State University, hopes this discovery will lead scientists to other genes that help the mosquitoes survive cold weather – in particular, those genes related to how insects handle the West Nile Virus when they enter a kind of hibernation.
Oct 20, 2005, 23:00
Drug Combo Against AIDS-Related Infections Also Prevents Malaria
A drug combination used to prevent pneumonia and opportunistic bacterial infection in persons with HIV/AIDS has unexpectedly been found to be highly effective at preventing malaria, according to a study published in the November 15 issue of The Journal of Infectious Diseases, now available online.
Oct 19, 2005, 20:55
Mosquito sexing technique promosing in malaria control
Scientists have genetically modified male mosquitoes to express a glowing protein in their gonads, in an advance that allows them to separate the different sexes quickly.
Oct 11, 2005, 00:59
Intermittent Prophylaxis Prevents Malaria in Infants
Giving infants preventive treatment for malaria can reduce malaria and anaemia even in seasonal, high transmission areas such as Ghana, finds a study in recent BMJ.
Oct 6, 2005, 15:31
Tracking how the malaria pathogen destroys the host cells
By specially tagging the outer and inner membranes of red blood cells infected with the malaria parasite and tracking the cellular changes that precede the cell bursting event that disperses parasites to other blood cells, a group of researchers has deepened our understanding of how the malaria pathogen destroys the cells in which it resides. The work is reported in Current Biology by Joshua Zimmerberg and colleagues at the U.S. National Institutes of Health.
Sep 23, 2005, 15:13
Clues to the Evolution of the Malarial Chromosome
Understanding the recombination patterns across a chromosome—determining the positions and frequency of genetic exchanges between homologous chromosomes—is crucial for understanding and tracking inheritance of traits. Mapping genes that affect parasites' traits, such as responses to various antimalarial agents, is possible because, during meiosis, homologous chromosomes line up and may exchange segments. Genes—or any polymorphic bits of DNA—that are close together tend to remain linked during this process, while those far apart tend to become separated. Identifying and following polymorphic markers through multiple generations is a key technique for genetic mapping.
Sep 13, 2005, 16:00
How Plasmodium breaks in to blood cells
Plasmodium falciparum, the most lethal malaria parasite, is a housebreaking villain of the red blood cell world. Like a burglar searching for a way in to his targeted premises, the parasite explores a variety of potential entry points to invade the red blood cells of its human victims. When a weak point is found, the intrusion proceeds.
Aug 30, 2005, 01:17
Artesunate shown to be more effective than Quinine in severe malaria
A drug derived from an ancient Chinese herb has been shown to reduce the risk of death from severe malaria by a third, potentially saving hundreds of thousands of lives in nations on our doorstep.
Aug 27, 2005, 03:41
PfRh4 gene expands malaria's invasion options
The malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum uses different pathways to invade red blood cells, evading the body's immune system and complicating efforts to create effective vaccines against the disease. A research team led by Australia's Alan F. Cowman, an international research scholar with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, has identified a gene that the parasite uses to switch back and forth between invasion pathways.
Aug 26, 2005, 09:21
Measuring Hidden Parasites in Falciparum Malaria
Approximately 40% of the world’s population, mostly living in the world’s poorest countries, is at risk of malaria. In the tropical and subtropical regions of the world, malaria causes 300 million acute illnesses and at least 1 million deaths annually. Ninety percent of these deaths occur in Africa, south of the Sahara, mostly among young children.
Aug 24, 2005, 23:23
LMP-420 reduces endothelial cell activation in cerebral malaria
In a paper published online in PLoS Medicine researchers from Marseille describe the effects of a new compound that may be a future treatment for patients with cerebral malaria. The compound¡XLMP-420¡Xinhibits two of the molecules produced in the brain when affected by cerebral malaria.
Aug 23, 2005, 20:11
Fansidar could have a new lease on life as a protective malaria drug
A dramatic reduction in the impact of malaria is in prospect with a clinical drug trial to begin in Papua New Guinea early next year. Success in the trial would open the way to relief in the 10% of humanity infected with this debilitating and often fatal disease – over 500,000,000 people.
Aug 19, 2005, 13:39
To Mosquitoes, People with Malaria Smell Like Dinner
Malaria is a misnomer. People used to believe that poisoned or “bad air,” the translation of the Italian phrase “mal aria,” caused disease. In the 19th century, when parasitologists figured out that single-celled parasites cause malaria, they didn’t bother to change the disease’s name. Experimenters proved that these parasites need a host organism to survive—so they can’t be transmitted through air—and that the hosts, mosquitoes, carry the parasite to humans.
Aug 10, 2005, 21:14