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Antioxidants may help prevent malaria complicaton that leads to learning impairment
Date:6/25/2010

SALT LAKE CITY Using an experimental mouse model for malaria, an international group of scientists has discovered that adding antioxidant therapy to traditional antimalarial treatment may prevent long-lasting cognitive impairment in cerebral malaria. Their findings were published online June 24, 2010, in the journal PLoS Pathogens.

Malaria, an infection caused by parasites that invade liver and red blood cells, is transmitted to humans by the female Anopheles mosquito. Malaria is one of the leading infectious diseases worldwide, affecting more than 400 million people and causing more than 2 million deaths each year, mainly among African children. Recently, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a report on 11 laboratory-confirmed cases of malaria among U.S. emergency responders and those traveling in the United States from Haiti.

Cerebral malaria is a severe, potentially fatal neurologic complication of infection by the most-feared malarial parasite, Plasmodium falciparum. Recent studies of children with cerebral malaria indicate that cognitive deficits, which may impair memory, learning, language, and mathematical abilities, persist in many survivors even after the infection itself is cured.

"Cerebral malaria and its molecular mechanisms are under intense study, but the cognitive dysfunction that can persist in survivors in the aftermath of successful treatment has gone unrecognized until recently," says Guy A. Zimmerman M.D., professor and associate chair for research in the University of Utah School of Medicine's Department of Internal Medicine and a contributor to the study. "This complication may impose an enormous social and economic burden because of the number of people at risk for severe malaria worldwide. Our findings demonstrate that, by using experimental models of cerebral malaria in mice, we can explore mechanisms of cognitive damage and also examine potential treatments for reducing or pre
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Contact: Phil Sahm
phil.sahm@hsc.utah.edu
801-581-2517
University of Utah Health Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

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