Israeli scientists search solution to deadly malaria parasite

Israeli scientists have begun searching for solutions to the new malaria parasite that outwits the immune system and is responsible for ninety per cent of more than one million deaths of malaria each year.

The deadly malaria parasite causes death among pregnant women and children under age five in most vulnerable populations.

A statement signed by Ms Mina Okuru, Public Diplomacy Coordinator, Embassy of Israel and copied to the Ghana News Agency said on Tuesday.

The statement said the parasite, Plasmodium falciparum, which is carried by the anopheles mosquito selectively expresses one protein while hiding other proteins from the immune system and quickly develops resistance to drugs.

The statement quoted an Israeli scientist and Researcher with the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Dr Ron Dzikowski as saying: “on entering the bloodstream, the Plasmodium parasite reproduces in the red blood cells and transports its own proteins to their surface.

“These cells become sticky and cling to the walls of blood vessels, blocking them and causing damage. The immune system typically identifies these proteins as foreign and creates antibodies to fight the disease.

“However, the plasmodium falciparum parasite deceives the immune system by revealing only one of 59 proteins encoded by its DNA. While the immune system is busy fighting that one protein, the parasite switches to another from its arsenal, staying under the radar of the immune system.”

Dr Dzikowski continued: “If you get malaria from this parasite, your life is seriously endangered,” adding that, “this clever parasite knows how to switch ‘masks’ to evade an immune attack, but our discovery could lead to new ways to prevent it from continuing this dangerous game.

“Now that we know how the mechanism works, we must go further to find ways to disrupt it so that the immune system will have an opportunity to overcome the infection.”

Dr Dzikowski said in the statement that other scientists were looking for drugs or vaccines, but the parasite is always one step ahead as it quickly develops resistance to drugs and that currently, there was no effective vaccine for it. GNA

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