Scientists use 3D filming to understand malaria reproduction

Scientists from the University of Edinburgh and the Rowland Institute at Harvard University announced on Tuesday that they have developed a 3D filming technique that could assist research to stem the spread of malaria.

Scientists are using digital holograms of malaria sperm to understand how the parasite mates and reproduces. They said that understanding this process could help in the development of prevention and control measures.

"Findings gained using our unique system provide us with a better understanding of how malaria parasites mate and spread this deadly disease, and have revealed that malaria sperm, and similar organisms, have greater freedom of movement than was previously thought," Royal Society Fellow at the University of Edinburgh Sarah Reece said.

Malaria parasites reproduce inside mosquitoes, which pass the disease to humans.

Researchers found that malaria sperm move in an irregular pattern to help maneuver through red blood cells in order to find a mate. They also discovered the sperm have a microscopic structure called a flagella that they use to swim and invade parts of the body.

In 2010, approximately 219 million cases of malaria were reported worldwide. The Democratic Republic of the Congo and Nigeria account for over 40 percent of malaria-caused deaths, according to the World Health Organization.