Carbohydrates May be Key to Effective Malaria Vaccines, Suggests Study

Carbohydrates are not completely hazardous, especially when it comes to stopping the spread of malaria.

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Carbohydrates May be Key to Effective Malaria Vaccines, Suggests Study

Highlights

  1. Carbohydrates are not completely hazardous
  2. Malaria parasites have a complex lifecycle
  3. Malaria parasites play a key role in malarias ability to infect mosquito
Carbohydrates are not completely hazardous, especially when it comes to stopping the spread of malaria. Yes, you read that right! According to the research published in the Nature Communications Journal, carbohydrates on the surface of malaria parasites play a vital role in malaria's ability to infect mosquito and human hosts. The discovery also reveals that steps may improve the only malaria vaccine approved to protect people against Plasmodium Falciparum malaria, which is the most deadly form of the disease.

Dr. Justin Boddey who led the research from University of Alberta, Canada, explained that the team had displayed that the malaria parasite 'tag' its proteins with carbohydrates in order to stabilise and transport them and that this process was crucial to completing the parasite's lifecycle.

"Malaria parasites have a complex lifecycle that involves constant shape shifting to evade detection and infect humans and subsequently mosquitoes," Dr Boddey said.

The researchers found that the parasite's ability to tag key protein with carbohydrates is imperative for two stages of the malaria lifecycle. It is important for the earliest stages of human infection, when the parasite transports through the body and invades in the liver and later when it is transmitted back to the mosquito from an infected human, enabling the parasite to be spread amongst people.

"It was hoped that the vaccine would generate a good antibody response that protected against the parasite, however it has unfortunately not been as effective at evoking protective immunity as hoped," Dr Goddard-Borger said. "Now that we know how important these carbohydrates are to the parasite, we can be confident that the malaria parasite cannot 'escape' vaccination pressure by doing away with its carbohydrates," he added.
 

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