DEC 26, 2015 8:55 AM PST

Malaria Stalls T Cell Development

WRITTEN BY: Kerry Evans
Malaria vaccines have been largely unsuccessful because the body produces a poor antibody response to the parasite.  Recently, however, researchers at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in Australia discovered how the malaria parasite “sabotages” this immune response.  

Malaria is caused by any of five species of protozoan parasites in the genus Plasmodium which are sprea by the Anopheles mosquito.  It is most common in tropical and subtropical regions near the equator and causes fever, fatigue, anemia, kidney failure, coma, and even death.  With more than 250 million cases per year, malaria is a serious global health threat and children are particularly susceptible because their immune systems are not fully developed.  
 
Malaria is a serious global health threat.

According to study author Diana Hansen, “with many infections, a single exposure to the pathogen is enough to induce production of antibodies that will protect you for the rest of your life ... however with malaria it can take up to 20 years for someone to build up sufficient immunity to be protected. During that time people exposed to malaria are susceptible to reinfection and become sick many times, as well as spreading the disease”.

During a typical infection, helper T cells communicate with B cells, instructing them to produce antibodies. Hansen and colleagues found that, in the case of malaria, antibodies are slow to develop because T cell development is hindered by factors such as TNF, IFN-?, and T-bet.  Blocking any of these factors restored the antibody response to malaria infection in mice.  

These findings should bolster malaria vaccine development.  “Until now, malaria vaccines have had disappointing results”, says Hansen.  “We can now see a way of improving these responses, by tailoring or augmenting the vaccine to boost development of helper T cells that will enable the body to make protective antibodies that target the malaria parasites”.
 

Sources: Cell Reports, Eurekalert, Wikipedia
About the Author
  • Kerry received a doctorate in microbiology from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.
You May Also Like
NOV 12, 2020
Immunology
The Enzyme That Keeps Viruses In Stealth Mode
NOV 12, 2020
The Enzyme That Keeps Viruses In Stealth Mode
Some viral infections just don’t go away. The hepatitis C virus, for instance, can result in life-long chronic inf ...
NOV 16, 2020
Cell & Molecular Biology
How Gut Microbes Deactivate a Common Diabetes Drug
NOV 16, 2020
How Gut Microbes Deactivate a Common Diabetes Drug
Metformin is a frequently prescribed type 2 diabetes treatment but its effects can vary significantly. In some patients ...
NOV 10, 2020
Neuroscience
Nanoparticles Pass the Blood-Brain Barrier in Zebrafish
NOV 10, 2020
Nanoparticles Pass the Blood-Brain Barrier in Zebrafish
Video:  Explains the challenges of delivering medicine to the brain, and possibly tools to pass the blood-brain bar ...
DEC 10, 2020
Clinical & Molecular DX
Gut Feeling: Microbiome Reveals Toxic Chemical Exposure in Kids
DEC 10, 2020
Gut Feeling: Microbiome Reveals Toxic Chemical Exposure in Kids
A study by Duke University researchers has revealed that children’s gut microbiomes hold clues as to their possibl ...
JAN 06, 2021
Immunology
Probiotic Boosters Are Lifesavers for Preterm Babies
JAN 06, 2021
Probiotic Boosters Are Lifesavers for Preterm Babies
When administered shortly after birth, a recent study has found that the supplementation combo of probiotics and prebiot ...
JAN 08, 2021
Microbiology
Antibiotic Resistance Genes Can Come From Random DNA Sequences
JAN 08, 2021
Antibiotic Resistance Genes Can Come From Random DNA Sequences
Bacterial infections that can't be eliminated with standard drugs, caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria, are consider ...
Loading Comments...