Study uses laser optical tweezers to investigate malaria

A recent study published by Cell Press used laser optical tweezers to study the parasite responsible for malaria and how it interacts with red blood cells in humans.

The results, which appeared in the Biophysical Journal, reveal insights into malaria biology that could pave the way to more effective malaria treatments, ScienceDaily reports.

The study used the optical tweezers to investigate how Plasmodium falciparum invades red blood cells. The tweezers used extremely small forces with a highly focused laser to pick up individual parasites that just emerged from a cell and move them to another.

The tweezers also measured how strongly the parasites attached to red blood cell, and the scientists used the technique to shed light on how invasion-inhibiting drugs affect the interactions between the parasites and cells.

The researchers believe the study demonstrated that the new technique is suitable for studying the parasite invasion process, according to ScienceDaily.

"Using laser tweezers to study red blood cell invasion gives us an unprecedented level of control over the whole process and will help us to understand this critical process at a level of detail that has not been possible before," Julian Rayner, a scientist with the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and the senior author on the study, said, ScienceDaily reports.