WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, 2016

Scientists find relations in liver cells and malaria parasites

Scientists find relations in liver cells and malaria parasites | Courtesy of biology.usf.edu
Center for Infectious Disease Research scientists have discovered an important link in the interactions involving malaria parasites and liver cells in the host.

The discovery demonstrates how the parasites are able to infect their host. The first target of the parasites is the host’s liver. If malaria cannot infect the liver, then the parasites are not able to reproduce and spread throughout the blood system. The blood infection eventually results in the disease spreading, the host feeling ill, and the host ultimately dying.

"This discovery is significant because it reveals a vital interaction between the malaria parasite and the person it infects,” Alexis Kaushansky, an assistant professor at the Center for Infectious Disease Research, said. “Before, we knew little about that interaction. The molecular details of our discovery will facilitate the design of new drugs and new vaccines.”

The discovery was only possible through uniting collaborative, cross-disciplinary, technological research and approaches.

"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,” Louis Miller, head of the Malaria Cell Biology section at the National Institutes of Health, said.

The manuscript, titled “Malaria parasites target the hepatocyte receptor EphA2 for successful host infection,” is available in Science Magazine.

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