Bolstering the liver's immune response to fight off malaria infection

September 27, 2018 by Bob Yirka, Medical Xpress report
The “prime and target” vaccination approach induced TRMs (white arrows) to accumulate in the livers of vaccinated mice after five weeks. Credit: A. Gola et al., Science Translational Medicine (2018)

A team of researchers with members from Oxford University in the U.K., the National Institutes of Health in the U.S. and Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands has developed a new approach to battling malaria—boosting an immune response in the liver. In their paper published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, the group describes their approach and how well it worked in mice.

Malaria is a complicated disease caused by a parasite rather than bacteria or a virus, and carried by mosquitoes—it also has a two-stage infection process in its host. Most approaches to fighting the disease involve inoculating a patient with an agent to kill the parasite after it has caused an infection—and sadly, the parasite has started to become resistant to most of them. Because of that, scientists around the world have been working toward a new vaccine, one that in addition to being effective, would not be so easily overcome. In this new approach, the researchers are going after the parasite before it has a chance to reproduce. When a person is bitten by a mosquito, sporozoites enter the bloodstream and make their way to the . Once there, they reproduce asexually, giving birth to multiple merozoites, which go on to infect . The researchers wondered if it might be possible to get the liver to put up more of a response when detecting the presence of sporozoites, killing them before they can reproduce.

To test their idea, the group developed a vaccine that works by activating tissue-resident memory CD8+ T cells in the liver—it makes its way there via a virus-based delivery mechanism. Once there, it remains resident for up to six months. If sporozoites are detected, the T cells activate, killing them.

The researchers report that the approach has worked very well in mice and has thus far been proven to be safe for human use. Next up will be clinical trials to determine if the new vaccine is an effective preventative measure for people living in -endemic regions. They also note that if their method works as hoped, it might also be used to fight other types of infections that get their start in organs such as the liver.

Explore further: Protective antibodies following malaria infection

More information: Anita Gola et al. Prime and target immunization protects against liver-stage malaria in mice, Science Translational Medicine (2018). DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aap9128

Related Stories

Protective antibodies following malaria infection

November 28, 2017
No effective vaccine exists to date against the tropical disease malaria. Scientists from the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) have now studied how the human immune system responds to natural infection by the malaria ...

Researchers identify target for novel malaria vaccine

July 13, 2018
A Yale-led team of researchers have created a vaccine that protects against malaria infection in mouse models, paving the way for the development of a human vaccine that works by targeting the specific protein that parasites ...

Major enhancement to in vitro testing of human liver-stage malaria

May 9, 2018
A newly developed technique allows researchers to more easily study malaria outside the human body during the earliest point of infection, the liver. The liver stage is significant as it precedes the parasite's ability to ...

Study explores new strategy to develop a malaria vaccine

April 11, 2018
A serum developed by Yale researchers reduces infection from malaria in mice, according to a new study. It works by attacking a protein in the saliva of the mosquitos infected with the malaria parasite rather than the parasite ...

Malaria vaccination strategy provides model for superior protection

June 15, 2011
Malaria is a devastating disease caused by the Plasmodium parasite which is transmitted to humans by infected mosquitoes. Hundreds of millions of new cases of malaria are reported each year, and there are more than 750,000 ...

Recommended for you

Researchers discover unique immune cell likely drives chronic inflammation

December 11, 2018
For the first time, researchers have identified that an immune cell subset called gamma delta T cells that may be causing and/or perpetuating the systemic inflammation found in normal aging in the general geriatric population ...

New light-based technology reveals how cells communicate in human disease

December 11, 2018
Scientists at the University of York have developed a new technique that uses light to understand how cells communicate in human disease.

Macrophage cells key to helping heart repair—and potentially regenerate, new study finds

December 11, 2018
Scientists at the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre have identified the type of cell key to helping the heart repair and potentially regenerate following a heart attack.

Immune cells sacrifice themselves to protect us from invading bacteria

December 11, 2018
Immune systems are working overtime as winter approaches. Stomach flu can turn the strongest individual into a bedridden convalescent. Viruses are spreading in kindergartens. This year's flu is approaching in full swing. ...

Study identifies a key cellular mechanism that triggers pneumonia in humans

December 11, 2018
The relationship between influenza and pneumonia has long been observed by health workers. Its genetic and cellular mechanisms have now been investigated in depth by scientists in a study involving volunteers and conducted ...

Effect of oral alfacalcidol on clinical outcomes in patients without secondary hyperparathyroidism

December 11, 2018
Treatment with active vitamin D did not decrease cardiovascular events in kidney patients undergoing hemodialysis, according to a research group in Japan. They have reported their research results in the December 11 issue ...

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.