SEP 01, 2020 8:17 AM PDT

Cell Atlas of Mosquito Immunology Reveals New Avenues for Eradicating Malaria

WRITTEN BY: Tara Fernandez

Malaria is one of the biggest ongoing threats to global health — over 200 million were infected and almost half a million lost their lives as a result of this mosquito-born parasitic disease in 2018 alone. Besides controlling the populations of these blood-sucking vectors, scientists are now turning to state-of-the-art genomic approaches to stop malarial transmission in a whole new way: from inside the mosquito.

The first breakthrough in this strategy came in the form of the first-ever atlas of all mosquito immune cells, recently published in the journal Science. This effort, led by an international team of researchers from the Wellcome Sanger Institute, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and Umeå University in Sweden revealed rare immune cells and molecular pathways in mosquitoes that could hold the key to finally eradicating this devastating disease.

The creation of this immune map involved the analysis of over 8,500 mosquito immune cells, revealing an unprecedented glimpse into the complexity of the mosquito immune response following infection with the malaria-causing Plasmodium parasite.

“We have carried out the first-ever large scale survey of the mosquito immune system, and using single-cell sequencing technology we found immune cell types and cell states that had never been seen before,” said the study’s lead author Gianmarco Raddi. “We also looked at mosquitoes that were infected with the Plasmodium parasite and for the first time we’re able to study their immune response in molecular detail, and identify which cells and pathways were involved.”

Previous studies pointed to the potential of a concept called “immune priming”, whereby the activation of the mosquito immune system to attack the parasite could limit its transmission to humans. Fascinatingly, the team also uncovered a new mosquito immune cell — the Megacyte — which could act as a molecular trigger for immune priming in mosquitoes.

Senior author Oliver Billker, speaking on the significance of this discovery said, “This is the first time a specific mosquito cell type has been implicated in regulating the control of malaria infection and is a really exciting discovery.” 

“We now need to carry out further studies to validate this and better understand these cells and their role”, Billker added.

 

 

Sources: Science, Technology Networks.


 

About the Author
  • Tara Fernandez has a PhD in Cell Biology and has spent over a decade uncovering the molecular basis of diseases ranging from skin cancer to obesity and diabetes. She currently works on developing and marketing disruptive new technologies in the biotechnology industry. Her areas of interest include innovation in molecular diagnostics, cell therapies, and immunology. She actively participates in various science communication and public engagement initiatives to promote STEM in the community.
You May Also Like
JUL 17, 2020
Immunology
More Potential Antibody Therapies for COVID Emerge
JUL 17, 2020
More Potential Antibody Therapies for COVID Emerge
When it comes to clinical countermeasures against COVID-19, one class of molecules stands out among the others: antibodi ...
JUL 28, 2020
Immunology
Neonatal Origins of Chronic Inflammatory Disease
JUL 28, 2020
Neonatal Origins of Chronic Inflammatory Disease
From birth, our genes write the story of our lives. For many people who develop chronic immune and inflammatory diseases ...
AUG 18, 2020
Immunology
How Dolphins Could Help Us Live Longer
AUG 18, 2020
How Dolphins Could Help Us Live Longer
Dolphins are helping scientists answer the age-old question: can we stop the clock when it comes to aging? A recent stud ...
SEP 08, 2020
Immunology
Regular Opioid Users Are More Sensitive to Pain, Immune System to Blame
SEP 08, 2020
Regular Opioid Users Are More Sensitive to Pain, Immune System to Blame
Opioids are painkillers such as oxycodone (OxyContin and Percocet) and hydrocodone (Vicodin) that are synthesized to mim ...
OCT 01, 2020
Immunology
Immune Cells and MS: The Good, the Bad, and the Maybe
OCT 01, 2020
Immune Cells and MS: The Good, the Bad, and the Maybe
Much like electrical wires that are encased in plastic insulating sheaths, nerve cells also are also surrounded by a sim ...
OCT 13, 2020
Immunology
Why Halloween Is Extra Scary for Kids With Peanut Allergies
OCT 13, 2020
Why Halloween Is Extra Scary for Kids With Peanut Allergies
A recent study showed that there is an 85 percent spike in peanut allergy anaphylaxis cases on Halloween. The study, per ...
Loading Comments...