Researchers have uncovered an essential interaction between malaria parasites and liver cells.
Scientists at the Centre for Infectious Disease Research recently uncovered a critical piece in the puzzle of how malaria parasites infect their host. The work reveals the details of how the malariaparasite invades its initial target organ, the liver. Without infection of the liver, the parasites cannot multiply or spread to the blood. Infection of the blood causes illness, spread of the disease, and, ultimately, death.
This discovery is significant because it reveals a vital interaction between the malaria parasite and the person it infects. Before, we knew little about that interaction. The molecular details of our discovery will facilitate the design of new drugs and new vaccines, said researcher Alexis Kaushansky. Louis H Miller, Head of Malaria Cell Biology Section at the National Institutes of Health notes, “The findings on the liver receptor EphA2 for malaria parasite sporozoite invasion of liver cells is a critically important advance and might allow us to devise new strategies to block parasite infection.”