Friday December 6, 2019

An international research team shows that carbohydrates may play a vital role in improving malaria vaccine

Malaria infects over 200 million people worldwide each year and kills around 650,000 people

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Malaria vaccine
Carbohydrates may improve malaria vaccine. Pixabay
  • Carbohydrates on the surface of malaria parasites play an important role in their ability to infect mosquito Andy human hosts
  • The new research is aimed at improving malaria vaccine design
  • It’s hoped that a version of RTS, S with added carbohydrates will perform better than the current vaccine

New Delhi, September 18, 2017: Offering vital clues to improving malaria vaccine, an international research team has shown that carbohydrates on the surface of malaria parasites play a critical role in their ability to infect mosquito and human hosts.

The discovery, published in the journal Nature Communications, also suggests steps that may improve the only malaria vaccine approved to protect people against Plasmodium falciparum malaria — the most deadly form of the disease.

The team had shown that the malaria parasite “tags” its proteins with carbohydrates in order to stabilise and transport them and that this process was crucial to completing the parasite’s life cycle.

“Interfering with the parasite’s ability to attach these carbohydrates to its proteins hinders liver infection and transmission to the mosquito and weakens the parasite to the point that it cannot survive in the host,” said Justin Boddey from Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in Parkville, Victoria, Australia.

Malaria infects over 200 million people worldwide each year and kills around 650,000 people, predominantly pregnant women and children. Efforts to eradicate malaria require the development of new therapeutics, particularly an effective malaria vaccine.

Also readNearly 900,000 Nigerian Children Receive Anti-Malaria Vaccination: WHO Report

The first malaria vaccine approved for human use — RTS,S/AS01 — got the nod of the European regulators in July 2015 but has not been as successful as hoped with marginal efficacy that wanes over time.

The new research is aimed at improving malaria vaccine design.

“The protein used in the RTS, S vaccine mimics one of the proteins we’ve been studying on the surface of the malaria parasite that is readily recognised by the immune system,” Ethan Goddard-Borger from Walter and Eliza Hall Institute said.

“With this study, we’ve shown that the parasite protein is tagged with carbohydrates, making it slightly different to the vaccine, so the antibodies produced may not be optimal for recognising target parasites.”

“It may be that a version of RTS, S with added carbohydrates will perform better than the current vaccine,” he said, adding that there were many documented cases where attaching carbohydrates to a protein improved its efficacy as a vaccine. (IANS)

Next Story

Researchers Develop a New Vaccine to Stop Bovine TB

The Bacille Calmette Guerin (BCG) vaccine, which is currently used to protect humans against TB and is effective in cattle, is incompatible with the PPD test

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Bovine TB
This potentially allows farmers and veterinarians to protect their animals with the new BCG vaccine, whilst still maintaining a diagnostic test that will detect Bovine TB. Pixabay

Researchers have developed a novel vaccine and complementary skin test to protect cattle against bovine tuberculosis also known as Bovine TB.

The study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, revealed that the research team from University of Surrey created a vaccine that is compatible with a synthetic form of the tuberculin skin test(PPD), a legally required test used for the surveillance of TB in cattle throughout the UK.

“This new vaccine provides protection against bovine TB and will help in the fight against this deadly disease which infects over 50 million cattle worldwide and is economically devastating to farmers,” said study researcher Johnjoe McFadden

Bovine TB is an infectious disease in cattle affecting their lungs, and those that test positive for the disease are culled.

The Bacille Calmette Guerin (BCG) vaccine, which is currently used to protect humans against TB and is effective in cattle, is incompatible with the PPD test.

Bovine TB
Bovine TB is an infectious disease in cattle affecting their lungs, and those that test positive for the disease are culled. Wikimedia Commons

During this study, researchers sought to make a new BCG vaccine strain that lacks some of the proteins that are shared with the pathogen Mycobacterium bovis by identifying genes that contain encoded immunogenic proteins that could be removed from BCG without affecting its ability to work as a live vaccine.

To do this, a collection of BCG strains that had each lost a single gene were injected into cows and survival rates measured. This allowed the team to identify genes that could be removed without compromising the BCG vaccine’s effectiveness.

These dispensable genes encoding immunogenic proteins were then deleted from the BCG chromosome to make a BCG-minus strain.

The deleted immunogenic proteins were then used to develop a new synthetic skin test that, like PPD, will be positive for animals that have been exposed to TB but, unlike PPD, will be negative for animals that have been vaccinated with the BCG-minus strain.

The protective efficiency of the new strain was tested in guinea pigs.

Bovine TB
Researchers have developed a novel vaccine and complementary skin test to protect cattle against bovine tuberculosis also known as Bovine TB. Pixabay

It was found that TB-infected guinea pigs tested positive for the disease using the synthetic skin test whilst guinea pigs vaccinated with the BCG-minus strain did not.

So, unlike PPD, the new skin test also works in animals that are protected from TB by BCG-minus vaccination.

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This potentially allows farmers and veterinarians to protect their animals with the new BCG vaccine, whilst still maintaining a diagnostic test that will detect TB. (IANS)