New evidence suggests malaria cycles are innate to the organism

May 14, 2020

Scientists from the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research joined partners at Duke University, Florida Atlantic University and Montana State University to publish a study providing clear evidence that malaria's characteristic cycle of fever and chills is a result of the parasite's own influence--not factors from the host.

What regulated that cycle, the result of parasites bursting out of infected red blood cells in sync then re-colonizing new red blood cells, has been studied since at least the 1920s. In the current study, evidence challenges the central dogma that a cyclic pattern of parasite growth is solely dependent on cues from the host.

Though the specific signals utilized remain to be elucidated, these findings raise the exciting possibility of disrupting this cycle as an antimalarial strategy.

"The malaria parasite contains an intrinsic biological oscillator that controls growth and development. Understanding the complex network that controls this oscillator could lead the development of novel antimalarials that may either kill the parasite or interfere with the growth cycle giving the host immune system the upper hand" said Colonel Norman Waters, an author on the paper.

In this study researchers studied four strains of Plasmodium falciparum, the deadliest and most prevalent of the five malaria species that infect humans, using in vitro cultures away from any host's circadian signals.

Using high-density time-series transcriptomics--techniques that measure the products of genes to gain insight into their activity--and microscopy, they found that the majority (87-92%) of tracked genes were cyclical--strong evidence that the cycle's primary regulator is intrinsic.

Malaria, infecting approximately 228 million individuals in 2018, remains a meaningful threat to public health and global stability. One of the top five infectious disease threats to deployed Service Members, WRAIR has participated in the development of most FDA-approved malaria prevention and treatment drugs as well as the world's most advanced malaria vaccine, RTS,S.

WRAIR and its partners remain committed to developing novel interventions to prevent the transmission of malaria, including mosquito repellents, chemoprophylaxis, biologics and more in order to eliminate the threat towards Service Members.
-end-
The opinions or assertions contained herein are the private views of the author, and are not to be construed as official, or as reflecting true views of the Department of the Army or the Department of Defense. The investigators have adhered to the policies for protection of human subjects as prescribed in AR 70- 25.

Headquartered in Silver Spring, Maryland, the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research provides unique research capabilities and innovative solutions to a range of force health and readiness challenges currently facing U.S. Service Members, along with threats anticipated during future operations.

Walter Reed Army Institute of Research

Related Malaria Articles from Brightsurf:

Clocking in with malaria parasites
Discovery of a malaria parasite's internal clock could lead to new treatment strategies.

Breakthrough in malaria research
An international scientific consortium led by the cell biologists Volker Heussler from the University of Bern and Oliver Billker from the UmeƄ University in Sweden has for the first time systematically investigated the genome of the malaria parasite Plasmodium throughout its life cycle in a large-scale experiment.

Scientists close in on malaria vaccine
Scientists have taken another big step forward towards developing a vaccine that's effective against the most severe forms of malaria.

New tool in fight against malaria
Modifying a class of molecules originally developed to treat the skin disease psoriasis could lead to a new malaria drug that is effective against malaria parasites resistant to currently available drugs.

Malaria expert warns of need for malaria drug to treat severe cases in US
The US each year sees more than 1,500 cases of malaria, and currently there is limited access to an intravenously administered (IV) drug needed for the more serious cases.

Monkey malaria breakthrough offers cure for relapsing malaria
A breakthrough in monkey malaria research by two University of Otago scientists could help scientists diagnose and treat a relapsing form of human malaria.

Getting to zero malaria cases in zanzibar
New research led by the Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs, Ifakara Health Institute and the Zanzibar Malaria Elimination Program suggests that a better understanding of human behavior at night -- when malaria mosquitoes are biting -- could be key to preventing lingering cases.

Widely used malaria treatment to prevent malaria in pregnant women
A global team of researchers, led by a research team at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM), are calling for a review of drug-based strategies used to prevent malaria infections in pregnant women, in areas where there is widespread resistance to existing antimalarial medicines.

Protection against Malaria: A matter of balance
A balanced production of pro and anti-inflammatory cytokines at two years of age protects against clinical malaria in early childhood, according to a study led by ISGlobal, an institution supported by ''la Caixa'' Foundation.

The math of malaria
A new mathematical model for malaria shows how competition between parasite strains within a human host reduces the odds of drug resistance developing in a high-transmission setting.

Read More: Malaria News and Malaria Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.