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Protein impedes microcirculation of malaria-infected red blood cells
Date:8/30/2012

CAMBRIDGE, MA -- When the parasite responsible for malaria infects human red blood cells, it launches a 48-hour remodeling of the host cells. During the first 24 hours of this cycle, a protein called RESA undertakes the first step of renovation: enhancing the stiffness of the cell membranes.

That increased rigidity impairs red blood cells' ability to travel through the blood vessels, especially at fever temperatures, according to a new study from researchers at MIT, the Institut Pasteur and the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST).

This marks the first time that scientists have identified the specific role of the RESA protein in modulating blood circulation in an environment that mimics physiological conditions, and could help researchers determine new strategies to combat malaria, which infects an estimated 300 to 500 million people worldwide each year.

The study coordinated by MIT's Ming Dao, a principal research scientist in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering (DMSE); Monica Diez Silva, a research scientist in DMSE; and YongKeun Park, an assistant professor of physics at KAIST appears Aug. 30 in Scientific Reports, an online journal of Nature.

Other MIT authors are Subra Suresh, former dean of the MIT School of Engineering and Vannevar Bush Professor of Engineering who is currently on leave from MIT serving as the director of the National Science Foundation; Jongyoon Han, an associate professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS); Sha Huang, an EECS graduate student; recent PhD recipient Hansen Bow; and the late Michael Feld, professor of physics.

This paper is the culmination of a collaboration between MIT and Institut Pasteur begun in 2004 when Suresh spent a sabbatical in Paris. The new results on dynamic microcirculation significantly extend earlier static experiments by the Suresh lab and the Pasteur team published in
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Contact: Sarah McDonnell
s_mcd@mit.edu
617-253-8923
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Source:Eurekalert

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