If mice are administered an antibiotic for three days and are simultaneously infected with malaria, no parasites appear in the blood and life-threatening disease is averted. In addition, the animals treated in this manner also develop robust, long-term immunity against subsequent infections. This discovery was made by the team headed by Dr. Steffen Borrmann from the Department of Infectious Diseases at Heidelberg University Hospital in cooperation with Dr. Kai Matuschewski of the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology in Berlin. The scientists think that safe and affordable prophylaxis with antibiotics in residents of areas with high malaria transmission has the potential to be used as a natural "needle-free" vaccination against malaria (Science Translational Medicine, 14 July 2010).
Malaria is still the most common and most dangerous vector-borne disease. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that a million people a year die of malaria, especially children in African countries. Globally, over three billion people are at risk of being infected with malaria. There is still no medicine that reliably protects people from infection and simultaneously promotes building up long-term immunity.
Mice in the model had full protection
The scientists developed the following immunization model on mice. Sporozoites (infectious stage of malaria parasites transmitted by mosquitoes) were injected directly into the animals' blood. At the same time, mice were treated with the antibiotics clindamycin or azithromycin. Normally, the sporozoites enter the liver, where they replicate massively and mature to the disease-causing blood stage forms (merozoites). The medication did not slow down the maturing of the merozoites in liver cells, but they prevented the red corpuscles in the blood from becoming infected. The typical disease symptoms such as fever and if left untreated, fatal malaria, which are caused solely by the blood stag
|Contact: Dr. Steffen Borrmann|
University Hospital Heidelberg