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Molecule to help gain upper hand against Malaria

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Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Molecule to help gain upper hand against Malaria

A molecule that helps the malaria parasite evade the human body's immune system has been recently discovered by a team of international researchers from the Netherlands, UK, Australia and Japan. The findings of the  project, which was partially funded by the EU-backed EVIMALAR ('Towards the establishment of a permanent European virtual institute dedicated to malaria research'),  were presented in the journal Cell Host & Microbe. These could provide fresh insight into how the parasite that triggers disease can dodge the defences built by the immune system.
One of the main reasons for scientists' inability to develop a viable malaria vaccine is because of the complex difficulties faced by the immune system with regards to the detection of parasite-infected cells. According to the senior author Professor Alan Cowman, from the Infection and Immunity division of the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, Australia,  the molecule discovered, named PfSET10, “plays an important role in the genetic control of PfEMP1, an essential parasite protein that is used during specific stages of parasite development for its survival”.  Building hopes he says : “we will be able to produce targeted treatments that would be more effective in preventing malaria infection in the approximately 3 billion people who are at risk of contracting malaria worldwide”.

Source: European Commission