Malaria Parasite Changes Their Genes’ Role to Hide in Human Blood

Malaria Parasite Changes Their Genes’ Role to Hide in Human Blood

According to a report, nearly 200 million people every year get sick due to malaria. In the year 2018, approximately 400,000 people died of malaria. Through the information of the blog, we will get to know the reason why stopping the spread of the disease has become a task hard-to-do. Many countries are working to develop a vaccine to prevent the disease; however, the parasites are now resistant to the common drugs used for the treatment of malaria. 

The main parasite responsible for the disease develops a trick of hiding itself in the blood of the carrier and that’s without being identified.

The disease, Malaria, is caused by five species of parasite Plasmodium. The deadliest type of the parasite is Plasmodium falciparumI that can badly affect the liver and cause kidney failure, coma, and convulsions. The parasite works by infecting human red blood cells, replicating them, and then causing common symptoms such as fever, shaking chills, and muscle aches.

While the disease is uncommon in temperature climates, the rainy season makes the most favourable time for malaria to grow faster. Therefore, the problem is extremely common in tropical and subtropical countries. In some parts of West Africa, a period of July to December is considered as the rainy season that makes a great time for P. falciparum to replicate. This is the time when mosquitoes can immensely spread the disease from person to person.

Scientists are unable to find out the response of the parasite during the nearly six months of the dry season when mosquitoes are rare to find. Silvia Portugal at Heidelberg University in Germany and her colleagues have discovered that P. falciparum changes its gene expression which allows it to survive in the human bloodstream without being diagnosed. The parasite gets ready to flare up again when the rainy season comes back.  

Portugal and her colleagues carried out research on 600 people in Mali. During the rainy season of 2017 and 2018, they recorded 386 and 347 cases of malaria with fever. During the dry season of 2017 and 2018, only twelve and five cases were diagnosed with fever. Portugal came up with a conclusion that during the dry season, the parasite remains at its low level to cause any symptom of the disease. Or, it brings out the response from a person’s immune system.

To know how the parasite does this, the researchers analyzed P. falciparum collected from the carriers from both rainy and dry seasons. During the rainy seasons, parasites fabricated a molecule that makes the red blood cells stick to blood vessels. It allows the parasite-containing cells to travel to the spleen – essentially a blood filter in which broken or diseased red blood cells are eliminated.

During the dry season, the parasites were unable to produce those molecules and infect the blood cells making them stick to blood vessels. Most cells that were infected travelled the spleen where they were broken down. It kept their growth slow that does not cause disease or trigger the immune response.  

Source: https://www.newscientist.com/article/2258158-malaria-parasite-hides-in-human-blood-by-changing-how-its-genes-work/

  • 11/09/2020
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