Friday November 16, 2018

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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Carbohydrates may improve malaria vaccine. Pixabay
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  • 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)

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Misinformation About The Flu Shots Creating Problems

Infectious disease experts recommend getting vaccinated before the flu season begins.

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Vaccination, vaccine
Ana Martinez, a medical assistant at the Sea Mar Community Health Center, gives a patient a flu shot, Jan. 11, 2018, in Seattle. According to an update by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the flu is now widespread in every state except Hawaii. VOA

The 2017 flu season was particularly bad in the Northern Hemisphere. Nearly 80,000 people died in the U.S., including 180 children. Already this year, the virus has claimed the life of a child in Florida.

A Florida hospital has surveyed parents throughout the U.S. to find out why some don’t get their children immunized even though it could put them in danger.

Why get the shot?

Kids are very effective spreaders of disease. Just ask Ehren McMichael, mom of three.

“My husband and I just assume if one kids gets it, it’s do the best you can and then hope for the best because more than likely, someone else in the house will come down with it as well,” she said.

Even though kids don’t like getting a shot, McMichael’s kids, including her daughter Hannah, know why they get one.

“It helps protect you from the flu, and so when you go to school, your friends don’t catch it,” Hannah said.

The same is true for her son Brayden.

“It’s better to get a shot than get sick,” he said.

Flu shot myths busted

Orlando Health Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children in Florida surveyed parents and found a significant number of them are misinformed about the vaccine. The survey found that more than half the parents questioned think children can get the flu from the shot, a third don’t think the vaccine works, and almost that many think the flu vaccine causes autism.

Dr. Jean Moorjani, at Orlando Health, tries to help parents understand why their kids should get vaccinated against the flu.

 

Vaccination, vaccine
A child receives a measles vaccination in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Aug. 6, 2018. (VOA)

 

“Doctors recommend the flu vaccine because we know, based on science and research and facts, that it is the best way to protect yourself and your family against the flu,” she said.

“You cannot get autism from the flu vaccine. It is not a conspiracy for doctors to recommend the flu vaccine. The parts of the virus that are used are completely dead, so you cannot get the flu from the flu shot,” she added.

Get your shot early

Scientists try to figure out what strains of flu are likely to circulate in a given year, but even if they guess wrong, Moorjani said, the vaccine still offers some protection.

“When your body receives the flu vaccine, your body starts to think, ‘OK, I’ve got to start making antibodies to help protect against the flu virus.’ So even if it’s not a perfect match, getting the flu vaccine will still give your body some protection,” she said.

Also Read: Top Healthy Habits Which Parents Can Teach Their Children

Infectious disease experts recommend getting vaccinated before the flu season begins. This goes for adults, as well. It helps protect those who are vaccinated as well as babies who are too young to be vaccinated. (VOA)