Sunday, June 19, 2011

Malaria Vaccine

       Malaria is a disease where a protozoan parasite from an infected mosquito, invades the body’s red blood cells. The parasite transfers from an infected mosquito to a human through the skin and then goes to the liver cells where it replicates itself so the parasite can enter the blood and bursts red blood cells (shown in the picture). Under a microscope, the parasite looks spherical, yellow, and1/20th the size of a red blood cell. There are four different species of the malaria parasite with the most common being Plasmodium falciparum being the most aggressive and deadly. Some forms cause recurring infections but rarely kills. Most often malaria begins with a fever and can kill a person within 24 hours or continue a fever and chills cycle for many days. 

It is a public health problem today in more than 100 countries and causes more than one million deaths a year. It is more prominent in third world countries with mostly children and pregnant women dying, but can occur everywhere. This disparity is caused by lack of proper funding and clean potable water for the communities, this furthermore leads to the root of the problem with tangent water. They use anti-malarial drugs to combat the disease once a person obtains it, but over time the malarial parasites have developed resistance to theses drugs. Recently a new study shows they may have found a way to discover a vaccination.
            Scientists have many theories on the development of a vaccine for malaria. One is to generate T-cells against liver-stage antigens to disrupt the parasitic life style. Some scientists have generated a genetically attenuated parasite (GAP) that can stop the protozoan parasite from replicating in the late liver stage. Before scientists were just trying to stop replication in the early live stage but this doesn’t stop all of the sporozoites from replicating. So now they are trying genetically attenuated parasites, which are produced from targeted gene deletions, to stop late liver stage developments. They have succeeded with mice and are hoping to further their studies. So hopefully this new strategy will lead to the vaccination for this horrible disease. Dr. Kappe and Dr. Harty now need a powerful model to find new parasite protein-based vaccine candidates that protect against infection in the liver and blood.
            A lot of past research acknowledges the fact that the vaccination is tricky since this parasite can be resistant to the dosage. They still believe that “vaccinations with viral-based vaccines hold promise for the prevention of malaria,” but they all seem to be on trials with animals. However, this is progress with this new strategy, and the way modern medicine continues on its path, the cure is likely in the near future. Which is hopeful since malaria has become more resistant and people get few immunities from catching this parasite, so incidents have increased globally.
 

Sources
Malaria Vaccination Strategy
MalariaFoundation
ELSEVIER

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