UC Riverside cell biologist to investigate how malaria parasite multiplies in red blood cells

November 04, 2010

RIVERSIDE, Calif. - Today, about half the world's population lives in areas at risk of malaria transmission. The disease is transmitted to humans through bites from mosquitoes, and each year causes hundreds of thousands of deaths worldwide, with about 1,500 of these in the United States.

The malaria-causing parasite, Plasmodium falciparum, is spread to people by the female Anopheles mosquito, which feeds on human blood. P. falciparum invades red blood cells, where it grows and multiplies. Eventually, the red blood cells burst, releasing into the bloodstream thousands of parasites that invade other red blood cells and continue the infection cycle.

Just how the human malaria parasite replicates itself inside red blood cells is, however, not well understood. Now a researcher at the University of California, Riverside has received a nearly $1.7 million four-year grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the National Institutes of Health, to address this question.

"If we manage to understand how the parasite multiplies in the red blood cells, we will be able to develop more effective strategies for combating malaria," said Karine Le Roch, an assistant professor of cell biology and neuroscience and the grant's principal investigator. "The long term goal is to devise new drug strategies against this devastating disease."

Stefano Lonardi, an associate professor of computer science and engineering, will assist in the computational analysis of the massive amount of data produced by the sequencing instruments.

"The analysis pipeline is complex, but in the end we would like our software tools to generate a set of hypotheses of gene regulation for the malaria genome that Karine can test or validate in the lab," Lonardi said.

The grant will support one technician, one postdoctoral researcher and one Ph.D. graduate student. An expert in proteomics and mass spectrometry from the Stowers Institute, Kan., will collaborate.
-end-
The University of California, Riverside (www.ucr.edu) is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 20,500 students. The campus will open a medical school in 2012 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Graduate Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

A broadcast studio with fiber cable to the AT&T Hollywood hub is available for live or taped interviews. To learn more, call (951) UCR-NEWS.


University of California - Riverside

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.