A team from the University of South Florida College of Public Health and the University of Georgia recently discovered why malaria and similar parasites spread so quickly inside animals and humans.
Malaria, which is drug-resistant, is an increasingly serious public health concern with an estimated 627,000 deaths each year. The research team hopes that its new insights will soon facilitate the discovery of a cure.
Researchers say the parasites replicate their chromosomes countless times and then create daughter cells in perfect condition, all while maintaining their own health against drug treatments.
Unlike animal and plant species that have one chance to replicate before the cell dies or becomes cancerous, malaria parasites are like Trojan horses. They live in a single type of cell but within many different kinds of tissues. After avoiding the body’s detection, the parasites unleash their daughter cells in huge waves, conquering the body’s immune system.
Researchers plan to use this information to disrupt the parasites’ centrosome function, which will kill the parasite. Disrupting just one part of the system breaks down the entire system.
More details about the study can be found in PLOS Biology, published Tuesday.