Researchers have uncovered a critical link in the chain of events leading up to the infection of host by the malaria parasite. The work revealed at Center for Infectious Disease Research, Washington, revealed the mechanism of the invasion of the initial target organ, the liver. The parasites cannot multiply without infection of the liver, and neither can they spread to the blood. Illness happens due to the infection of the blood, and spread of the disease, and finally death.
This discovery is significant as it uncovers a vital interaction between the malaria parasite and the infected person. Earlier not much was known about the interaction.
According to researcher Alexix Kaushansky, the molecular details of the discovery would facilitate the design of new drugs and new vaccines.
According to Louis H Miller, head of Malaria Cell Biology Section at the National Institutes of Health, "The findings on the liver receptor EphA2 for malaria parasite sporozoite invasion of liver cells is a critically important advance and might allow us to devise new strategies to block parasite infection."
The discovery was made through collaborative research between the laboratories of researchers Stefan Kappe, Noah Sather, and Alexis Kaushansky. The combination of cross-disciplinary, collaborative research and technological approaches has allowed this type of discovery to be possible.
The center has pioneered the systems biology approach to research, which utilises state-of-the-art technology, fosters collaboration between scientists, and allows for a comprehensive understanding of the interactions between pathogens and their hosts. This method provides an essential path the transformative advances needed to prevent and treat the world's deadliest infectious diseases.
The full manuscript detailing the researchers' findings titled "Malaria parasites target the hepatocyte receptor EphA2 for successful host infection," was published in the November edition of Science magazine.