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Malaria against malaria: A pre-existing malaria infection can prevent a second infection
Date:5/15/2011

rasites causing the parasites in the liver to be starved of iron, so that they cannot grow. In that respect, the results challenge the biological concept that infection of distinct host cells (liver hepatocytes or red blood cells) occur independently from each other, which may also have impact in the research area of infection (beyond malaria).

Dr Silvia Portugal, first author of the study says: "I am very happy that we were able to find such an interesting interaction occurring between different malaria parasite stages in a single host, and that this might contribute for future control of malaria."

Dr Maria Mota, who led the study at Instituto de Medicina Molecular in Lisbon says: "Our findings help explaining the differences in infection risk and complexity of infections in young individuals observed in endemic-malaria regions that have hitherto required speculative explanations. Also, they challenge the idea that infection in distinct cell types is independent, which may have an impact in future research in the field of infectious diseases as a whole. "

Dr Hal Drakesmith who co-led the study at the Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine adds: "'Now that we understand how malaria parasites protect their territory in the body from competitor parasites, we may be able to enhance this natural defence mechanism to combat the risk of malaria infections. At the same time we may need to look again at the advisability of iron supplementation programmes in malaria-endemic regions, as possible increased risk of infection may need to be weighed against benefits - more data is needed on this issue."

Malaria is a devastating disease that affects extensive areas of Africa, Asia, South and Central America, causing several thousands of deaths per year in children under the age of five. Malaria is caused by the infection of the protozoan parasite Plasmodium, which belongs to the phylum Apicomplexa. Attempts to eradicate malaria have so far b
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Contact: Marta Agostinho
marta-elisa@fm.ul.pt
351-918-486-058
Instituto de Medicina Molecular
Source:Eurekalert

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