Science / Medicine : Anti-Malaria Technique Found
Antibodies can attack the malaria parasite through a newly discovered pathway into infected blood cells, a finding that scientists say could lead to drugs designed to prevent the disease’s critical stage. Scientists at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia reported last week in the British journal Nature that drugs attached to the proper antibody could slip through the pathway, called the parasitophorus duct, reaching the parasite and killing it.
The purpose of the newly discovered duct is unknown but researchers think it might be used by the parasite to get nutrients from blood. The finding is surprising because researchers had previously believed that the parasite, called a sporozoite, is safely shielded from the body’s defenses while it is inside blood cells.
Malaria, which strikes about 300 million people in the world annually, causes chills, fever, headache, anemia and, in severe cases, death.