A team of researchers has found that the existing malaria prevents subsequent infection by the malaria parasite by limiting the presence of iron in the host liver. This discovery has important implications for treatment and prevention of malaria that affects millions of people worldwide.

The study was developed by a team led by researcher Maria M. Mota at the Instituto de Medicina Molecular, Lisbon, Portugal, in collaboration with researchers at the Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine and Oxford University, and funded by the Portuguese Fundacao Ciencia e Tecnologia a pre, the European Science Foundation and Medical Research Council, UK.

In this new study, the researchers focused on how the malaria parasite to grow, both in the liver and in red blood cells and analyzed patterns of infection in mice, looking for the special case of "super infection", in which someone who is already infected with malaria after being bitten by both an infected mosquito. Someone in a high risk area can be bitten by hundreds of mosquitoes infected with malaria per year, which makes the problem very relevant super infection. The study for the first time reveal the vital role of iron in the development of a malaria infection, which has strong implications for iron supplementation to combat anemia in malaria endemic areas.

After a mosquito bite, malaria parasites first of all to the heart, a lot, then go out and attack the red blood cells. Formerly known that parasites in both the liver and in blood need iron to grow. This new study shows that the two mosquito bites on someone who is already carrying blood parasites, does not result in full blast a second infection. Super infection is blocked in the liver by the first infection. This protective effect is caused by blood parasites causing the parasites in the liver to iron out, so they can not grow. Therefore, the results obtained dubious biological concept that infection of different host cells (liver hepatocytes or red blood cells) occur independently from each other, which also had an impact on the field of study that exceeds malaria infection.

Dr. Silvia Portugal, first researcher of the study said: "I am very pleased we were able to find such an interesting interaction occurring between the stages of the malaria parasite in a host of different, and this may contribute to the control of malaria in the future."

Dr. Maria Mota, who led the study at the Instituto de Medicina Molecular in Lisbon says: "Our findings help explain the differences in infection risk and complexity of infections in young people observed in the malaria endemic areas who had speculative explanation is needed to at this time. Anyway, they doubted the idea that infection in distinct cell types occur independently, which may impact on future research in the field of infectious diseases as a whole. "

Dr. It Drakesmith working together leads study on the Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine adds: "Now that we understand how malaria parasites protect their territory in the body from parasites competitors, we may be able to enhance this natural defense mechanism to combat the risk of infection- malaria infection. At the same time we need to look back on the feasibility of iron supplementation programs in malaria-endemic areas, as it increases the risk of possible infection needs to be weighed with the benefits gained. More data are needed for this problem. "

Malaria is a devastating disease affecting extensive areas of Africa, Asia, Central and South America, causing several thousand deaths per year in children under five years old. Malaria is caused by protozoan parasites Plasmodium infection, which includes the type Apikompleksa. Experiments to eradicate malaria have so far not been successful. Failure can be attributed to the increase in insecticide resistance in mosquitoes and the anti-malarial drugs in the parasite. There is an urgent need for developing new strategies against malaria.

The findings were published on May 15, 2011 in Nature Medicine

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