Sunday, 27 November 2011
Breakthrough may pave way for new malaria drugs
Researchers have shown how the malaria parasite can survive in a type of white blood cell in the spleen -- a breakthrough that could lead to new malaria drugs and vaccines.
Traditionally, it was believed the parasite`s development was restricted to the liver and red blood cells.
Michelle Wykes, who conducted the study from the Queensland Institute of Medical Research (QIMR), said the findings open up a whole new approach to developing drugs and vaccines, the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reports.
"Our research has discovered how white blood cells called dendritic cells malfunction and shield the malaria parasite from the body`s immune attack.
"Dendritic cells normally function like generals of an army, giving orders to the body`s immune cells to fight infection," QIMR quoted Wykes as saying.
"The system usually works brilliantly. However, the problem with malaria is that the disease has found a way to block dendritic cells from doing their work, meaning the disease over-rides our immune responses. (So) people get sick," said Wykes.