Hyderabad: A team of researchers from the University of Hyderabad (UoH) has decoded a link for curbing malaria.
The researchers led by Prof. Mrinal Bhattacharya from the UoH have found a correlation between the fever that is induced by malaria and the antigenic variation of the malarial parasites. This novel discovery could be the next big step in finding a cure for malaria.
Malaria is a life-threatening disease caused by malarial parasite Plasmodium falciparum transmitted among humans through bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes.
According to researchers, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) report for the year 2019 estimated 229 million malaria cases and put deaths due to malaria at 4,09,000 worldwide. Children below the age of five years were the most vulnerable and accounted for 67 per cent (2,74,000) of all malaria deaths worldwide.
“The Plasmodium falciparum erythrocyte-membrane-protein 1 (PfEMP1) (the protein from the malarial parasite under current study) is the most predominant molecular determinant of antigenic variation in this parasite. There could be up to 90 variants of this protein and only one protein is expressed at a given time, and this expression is completely random. These proteins do not live through multiple generations as the malaria parasites keep changing from one protein form to the other, hence the human host fails to mount a robust antibody response against these variant proteins,” the researchers said on Saturday.
The present study uncovered how the parasites manipulate the expression of malarial proteins on the surface of the infected red blood cells in response to fever, which is the most common manifestation of the disease.
The findings from the research work which were published in a reputed journal ‘Molecular Microbiology’ suggested that targeting the parasitic proteins involved in the heat-shock response during fever is likely to restrict the antigenic variation in the parasites and thereby prevents malaria.
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