DEC 26, 2015 08:55 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 21, 2019
Microbiology
NOV 21, 2019
The Long Evolutionary History of Antibiotics and Resistance
The world is full of bacteria that have to share the world with myriad species, and often have to live in competition with other microbes....
NOV 21, 2019
Microbiology
NOV 21, 2019
Antidepressants and Serotonin Impact Gut Microbiota
About 90% of the serotonin found in the human body is made in the gut. Some bacteria can encourage the release of serotonin from gut cells....
NOV 21, 2019
Microbiology
NOV 21, 2019
Ticks May Spread Multiple Diseases in One Bite
The incidence of tick-borne diseases is on the rise, and ticks present a growing threat to public health worldwide....
NOV 21, 2019
Cell & Molecular Biology
NOV 21, 2019
Researchers Prevent the Common Cold in Human Cells and Mice
Colds are famous for being incurable, but researchers may have found a way to stop them....
NOV 21, 2019
Microbiology
NOV 21, 2019
Pathogenic E. coli Tends to Come From Poor Hygiene, Not Contaminated Food
A new study has shown that antibiotic-resistant E. coli spreads primarily because of poor hygiene....
NOV 21, 2019
Clinical & Molecular DX
NOV 21, 2019
Meningitis and Encephalitis: Testing & Diagnosis Strategies for Effective Treatment
Meningitis is an inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain (meninges) and spinal cord. Encephalitis, on the other hand, refers to inflammation of...
Loading Comments...