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

Growing a blood vessel in a week

Oct 24, 2014

The technology for creating new tissues from stem cells has taken a giant leap forward. Three tablespoons of blood are all that is needed to grow a brand new blood vessel in just seven days. This is shown ...

Testing time for stem cells

Oct 24, 2014

DefiniGEN is one of the first commercial opportunities to arise from Cambridge's expertise in stem cell research. Here, we look at some of the fundamental research that enables it to supply liver and pancreatic ...

Team finds key signaling pathway in cause of preeclampsia

Oct 23, 2014

A team of researchers led by a Wayne State University School of Medicine associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology has published findings that provide novel insight into the cause of preeclampsia, the leading cause ...

Rapid test to diagnose severe sepsis

Oct 23, 2014

A new test, developed by University of British Columbia researchers, could help physicians predict within an hour if a patient will develop severe sepsis so they can begin treatment immediately.

User comments