Malaria parasites camouflage themselves from the immune defenses of expectant mothers

Collaborative research between Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and the University of Copenhagen, published last week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, have answered a long standing mystery, why and how malaria parasites go unnoticed by the immune defences of pregnant mothers. Maternal malaria kills 10,000 women and between 10,000 to 200,000 babies every year. Malaria is a preventable and treatable disease and every life lost is needless.

The malaria parasites take on a camouflage that enables their presence to go undetected in the placenta, and therefore they are not attacked by the immune system. Ironically, the camouflage adopted is itself an antibody, although a giant example called IgM that is very different to the IgG antibodies commonly used to attack the parasite.

The findings are fundamental to understanding immunity to this dangerous form of the disease and to developing a vaccine to protect pregnant women.

Provided by Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Profiling malaria-causing parasites

Feb 07, 2011

The majority of fatal cases of malaria are caused by infection with the parasite Plasmodium falciparum. Most at risk are young children and women who are pregnant. A team of researchers, led by Patrick Duffy, at the Nation ...

Recommended for you

Cellular protein may be key to longevity

Sep 15, 2014

Researchers have found that levels of a regulatory protein called ATF4, and the corresponding levels of the molecules whose expression it controls, are elevated in the livers of mice exposed to multiple interventions ...

Gut bacteria tire out T cells

Sep 15, 2014

Leaky intestines may cripple bacteria-fighting immune cells in patients with a rare hereditary disease, according to a study by researchers in Lausanne, Switzerland. The study, published in The Journal of Experimental Me ...

T-bet tackles hepatitis

Sep 15, 2014

A single protein may tip the balance between ridding the body of a dangerous virus and enduring life-long chronic infection, according to a report appearing in The Journal of Experimental Medicine.

User comments