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New research may lead to future malaria vaccine

Category: Autoimmune Diseases

New research may lead to future malaria vaccineA newly discovered mechanism by which the parasite that causes malaria infects red blood cells could lead to improvements in malaria testing and, possibly, to a vaccine in the near future.

For many years, little was known about the process of malaria infection, leaving drug makers scrambling to find some kind of medication that could slow the spread of the disease. Malaria kills 1 to 2 million people worldwide each year.

However, researchers from Penn State University were able to identify the specific protein in red blood cells that the parasite uses to gain entry to cells.

Jose Stoute, who led the investigation, said that, despite the high number of casualties caused by malaria, little it known about the disease or how to stop it from spreading.

"How the parasite invades red blood cells is not completely understood," he said. "This work has important implications for the future development of a vaccine against malaria. It is imperative that all the major invasion pathways be represented in a future malaria blood stage vaccine."
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