A team of researchers has identified a protein that is capable of trapping malaria-causing parasites inside red-blood cells, thus preventing their spread throughout the body. This discovery could potentially lead to the development of a vaccine against the deadly malaria virus.
Research leader Dr Jonathan Kurtis, based at Rhode Island Hospital in the United States, said the experiments were conducted on mice but could translate to humans.
In the study, published in the journal Science, mice were vaccinated with antibodies to the protein.
They ended up with lower levels of malaria parasites and survived longer than the unvaccinated mice.
Dr Kurtis explained: “Many researchers are trying to find ways to develop a malaria vaccine by preventing the parasite from entering the red blood cell, and here we found a way to block it from leaving once it has entered.
“If it’s trapped in the red blood cell, it can’t go anywhere, it can’t do any further damage.”