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University of South Florida and Draper team to create advanced devices for testing malaria drugs
Date:2/8/2011

the liver is the first target of the disease. The parasite is carried there after it enters the bloodstream through the bite of an infected mosquito. Once inside the liver, the infecting parasites for most types of malaria multiply and rupture liver cells, escaping back into the bloodstream. (In vivax malaria, some parasites can remain dormant in the liver for extended periods before infecting the blood.) The parasites, now modified to attack red blood cells, rapidly create more parasites, which spread throughout the bloodstream in waves.

Thus, the researchers are concentrating on the liver stage of the malaria life cycle for several reasons:

  • First, at this initial stage of human infection there are fewer parasites -- hundreds or a few thousand in the liver compared to millions once parasites start replicating in the bloodstream. That improves the odds of eliminating the parasite, Dr. Kyle said.

  • Second, vivax has the potential to lay dormant in the liver and re-activate months or years after treatment, causing relapses of malaria. While parasites are in the liver, the person does not feel sick. Once parasites enter the bloodstream, disease symptoms emerge, including chills, fever, headache, body aches, vomiting and exhaustion. If untreated, the deadly falciparum strain can quickly escalate to severe anemia, convulsions, brain damage and coma. "The drugs available to treat the bloodstream stages don't work in the liver," Dr. Adams said. "So if you could get rid of parasites in the liver stage, you could essentially prevent vivax malaria and the transmission of infection."

  • Third, the only drug effective in attacking the liver's reservoir of dormant malaria parasites to help prevent recurrences of vivax malaria is risky for widespread use. Administering Primaquine to people with a red blood cell enzyme deficiency, known as glucose phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency, may trigger severe and potentially le
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Contact: Anne DeLotto Baier
abaier@health.usf.edu
813-974-3300
University of South Florida (USF Health)
Source:Eurekalert  

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University of South Florida and Draper team to create advanced devices for testing malaria drugs
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