New Vaccine Target Activates Malaria Parasite “Kill Switch”

April 28, 2020 | Biotechnology

Reading time: 5-6 minutes

This week, Lab.Equipment has curated a new Biotechnology article published from GEN:

In the past several months, many of us have become uniquely aware of global pandemics that have ripped their way across the globe. Whether it was the black plague of the 14th century, the 1918 flu pandemic, or the current COVID-19, there is still one pandemic disease that eclipses all others in terms of its death toll and persistence. By all accounts, malaria has been around since the dawn of humankind, and many scientists have hypothesized that since the stone age, this parasitic infection has killed half of all human life that has lived on this planet. It’s a sobering thought given that the disease still claims close to a half-million people each year—mainly children under the age of five years old—and that useful therapeutics and control measures have eluded researchers or become ineffective due to resistance.

While a vaccine would be the ideal method for eliminating malaria from the human population, all attempts thus far to create an effective vaccine have been thwarted by the parasite. However, now, a team of investigators led by scientists at Brown University has discovered a promising new strategy for combating malaria that could prove useful as a novel vaccine candidate.

In the current study, the researchers screened blood samples from children who had natural immune resistance to severe malaria infection. They identified an antibody to a particular malaria protein, called PfGARP, that appears to protect resistant children from severe disease. Findings from the new study were published recently in Nature through an article entitled “Anti-PfGARP activates programmed cell death of parasites and reduces severe malaria.”

Additionally, lab tests showed that antibodies to PfGARP seem to activate a malarial self-destruct mechanism, causing parasite cells living inside human red blood cells to undergo a form of programmed cell... Read more at the GEN Blog.

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