Researchers develop new method to fight malaria

Researchers in Seattle have developed a new strategy to fight malaria that has been described as an effective next-generation vaccination approach against the disease.

The new strategy, developed by scientists at the Seattle Biomedical Research Institute and the University of Iowa, works by eliciting an immune response in humans that is capable of fighting off the malaria parasite during multiple stages in its life cycle, according to

"Halting Plasmodium infection during the clinically silent liver stage represents an attractive goal of antimalarial vaccination, but is challenging because, if not complete, some parasites can get into the blood and cause disease," study co-author Stefan Kappe said, reports.

The procedure involves irradiating the parasites while they are confined to the liver. This causes extensive and random damage to their DNA that arrests the parasites early, allowing the body’s immune system to develop other defenses.

"In our study, we examined whether genetically attenuated parasites generated by targeted gene deletions to stop replication late in liver-stage development were a better vaccine option," co-author John Harty of the University of Iowa said, reports.

The researchers used malaria mouse models to determine that immunization during the late-liver-stage provided superior and long-lasting protection when compared to irradiating during the early-liver-stage.

More importantly, immunization at the late-liver-stage provided protection at the blood stage of malaria infection and across different malarial species.

The research was published online in the journal Cell Host and Microbe.