Malaria parasites camouflage themselves from the immune defenses of expectant mothers

August 19, 2011

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.

Explore further: Malaria parasites use camouflage to trick immune defences of pregnant women

Related Stories

Malaria parasites use camouflage to trick immune defences of pregnant women

July 11, 2011
Copenhagen University Hospital and the University of Copenhagen have discovered why malaria parasites are able to hide from the immune defences of expectant mothers, allowing the parasite to attack the placenta. The discovery ...

Researchers discover biochemical weakness of malaria parasite -- vaccine to be developed

June 7, 2011
Every year, 10,000 pregnant women and up to 200,000 newborn babies are killed by the malaria parasite. Doctors all around the globe have for years been looking in vain for a medical protection, and now researchers from the ...

Recommended for you

Want to win at sports? Take a cue from these mighty mice

July 20, 2017
As student athletes hit training fields this summer to gain the competitive edge, a new study shows how the experiences of a tiny mouse can put them on the path to winning.

'Smart' robot technology could give stroke rehab a boost

July 19, 2017
Scientists say they have developed a "smart" robotic harness that might make it easier for people to learn to walk again after a stroke or spinal cord injury.

Engineered liver tissue expands after transplant

July 19, 2017
Many diseases, including cirrhosis and hepatitis, can lead to liver failure. More than 17,000 Americans suffering from these diseases are now waiting for liver transplants, but significantly fewer livers are available.

Lunatic Fringe gene plays key role in the renewable brain

July 19, 2017
The discovery that the brain can generate new cells - about 700 new neurons each day - has triggered investigations to uncover how this process is regulated. Researchers at Baylor College of Medicine and Jan and Dan Duncan ...

New animal models for hepatitis C could pave the way for a vaccine

July 19, 2017
They say that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. In the case of hepatitis C—a disease that affects nearly 71 million people worldwide, causing cirrhosis and liver cancer if left untreated—it might be worth ...

Omega-3 fatty acids fight inflammation via cannabinoids

July 18, 2017
Chemical compounds called cannabinoids are found in marijuana and also are produced naturally in the body from omega-3 fatty acids. A well-known cannabinoid in marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinol, is responsible for some of its ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.